Before I gave birth to my son, I ran almost every day. I ran in the bitter cold. I ran under the scorching sun. I rose at the crack of dawn to run before work. And in college, I even ran at 2 a.m. on the treadmill in my dorm. Running cleared my mind and kept me fit. While I wasn’t a fast runner, I was a dedicated runner, and I always imagined that I’d stay that way.

And then I became a mother. Six weeks post birth, my doctor gave me the thumbs up to exercise again, and I immediately headed to the gym. But just as I was getting into my groove, my husband called. “The baby’s hungry, and there’s no bottle in the fridge! Can you come home?”

Being a parent of a little one is not only a 24/7 role. It’s also a very physical one. While I no longer run, I find that I work my muscles 80% of the time when my son and I are together. In fact, with no formal exercise at all, I’m 10 pounds lighter than I was pre-pregnancy. If you’re a mom looking to get fit with no time to exercise, here are my favorite techniques:

Hip-carry

Hip-carry

Sometimes my little one refuses to sit in his stroller. Whether I offer him his favorite toy, Cheerios, or even my phone, he isn’t interested in sitting there. So, I end up wheeling the stroller, while carrying him on my hip. Carrying a 19-pound toddler down several blocks is no easy task. But, it’s a great workout, especially for my arms. I just have to remind myself to switch hips every once in awhile, so that both arms work their muscles.

Laughter lift

When my little boy was a few months old, I realized that my goals in life had changed. Suddenly, my number one goal was making him laugh. One day, he’d hear a leaf rustle and break into hysterical laughter. On another day, just seeing a curly ribbon would set him off. Every day, it was something different, but there was always one sure way to his heart. While lying down on my back, I hold my little one and lift him closer and farther away from my face, while he giggles with joy. It’s a great workout for my arms and my core, and he absolutely loves it. I actually created a Facebook cover, which features us in this happy pose.

 

Stroller walks

stroller-walks

 

When I ran in my past life, I always used to pass tons of walking women along the way. I wondered how they’d made walking their go-to exercise. Once I started taking my son for walks in the stroller, side-by-side with friends and their babies, I understood. Stroller walks are often a great way to get out of the house and exercise. My son can see the world from his comfortable chair, I can catch up with friends, and we can both enjoy the fresh air. I live in a neighborhood, which is known for its hills, so the steep inclines also add a level of intensity to these walks.

Subway journeys

Living in Manhattan, our number one way to get around is via the subway. Some of the subway stations have elevators, but not all — and not the stations that are closest to my house. Instead of confining myself to our neighborhood for the next few years, we invested in a super lightweight stroller. I feel confident carrying it up and down the subway station steps — without relying on others for help — and wielding it throughout the city. I won’t lie and say that the experience is super easy, though. But it’s great exercise for my arms and legs, and very empowering for me as a mom. My own mother was so impressed by my transportation skills that she included a photo of my son and me on the subway together in our family newsletter.

Baby biking

baby-biking

 

When my husband and I lived in a seaside city, we used to bike all the time. But between becoming a mom and relocating to Manhattan, I haven’t been on a bike in a year and a half. For my birthday, I’m looking forward to buying a brand new bike that’s sturdy, safe, and comes equipped with a toddler seat in the back. My little boy will be able to enjoy the summer breeze, while I indulge in one of my favorite pastimes.

 

Nursing diet

This isn’t exactly an exercise tip, but one of the unexpected benefits of nursing was being able to eat whatever I wanted and then burn every calorie and more. Of course, choosing to nurse is a personal decision, and one that worked well for my baby and me. When I finally stopped nursing, I was worried that I’d put on weight. But, luckily, the above exercise techniques have kept me lean.

What are some of your favorite exercise tips for new moms?

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