What is the Right Amount of Exercise for YOU!

melanieEvents, exercise, General health, Healthy Lifestyle, Paediatrics, Pelvic Floor, Physiotherapy, Pregnancy, self care, Sleep, strengthening, Stretches, Women's HealthLeave a Comment

I have been working with mothers and children for the better part of my career and there has always been one limiting factor to fully relating to my patients: I am not a mother nor do I have children. But I am passionate about my work and highly value exercise prescription, so if you’ve come to see me in the past couple of years, there is no doubt you’ve been sent home with 3-4 exercises to complete along with many other tips and suggestions. 

Something along the lines of:

Pelvic floor contractions: 2 sets of 10 reps, twice daily 

Increase your water intake 

Go for a 30 minute walk, 3x weekly 

Increase your fiber intake

Oh, and don’t forget to get 8 hours of sleep every night

I would advise patients of mine to do their exercises when the baby naps (because you know, what else does a mom have to do during that time?) They would politely nod and smile at me. Until one day when one of the moms I work with said to me “when my baby naps, I hardly have time to take a shower, make something to eat and clean the mess in the house before he wakes up again.”

Maybe I’m being overambitious with my exercise prescription, I thought. So I started to cut it down to the important stuff:

Pelvic floor contractions: 2 sets of 10 reps, twice daily 

Increase your water intake 

Go for a 30 minute walk, 3x weekly 

Increase your fiber intake

Oh, and don’t forget to get *6-7* hours of sleep every night 

Seemed to be going well … until I got pregnant.

I am now in my seventh month of pregnancy, and, this is what MY day consists of:

Wake up, take longer than normal to put my socks on, work a full day, come home and make a less-than-ideal “nutritious” dinner, shower, elevate my feet while MAYBE doing 3-4 kegels before I fall asleep again. 

… and I don’t even have the child yet.

I’m a huge advocate of self-care and one of the reasons I give this amount of homework to my patients is because I am eager to get them in a place where they feel their best selves. But if there is one thing I’ve learned it’s that self-care that is prescribed to you is not always what’s ideal for YOU.

I’ve also learned in the past 7-months is that parent-hood is busy. Instead of prescribing, I’ve started to ask questions about what’s important to YOU and what YOUR day-to-day activities consist of. 

I’ve learned that we are less likely to do our exercises when prescribed x sets of x reps, x times/day vs. finding a specific time in our day to do their exercises that works for us (ie, washing the dishes or when getting into bed at night). 

I’ve learned that new parents are usually left with only one hand to feed themselves and are often reaching for the easiest and most convenient thing in the fridge. Perhaps a referral to our nutritionist would be more appropriate than just suggesting to “increase your fiber intake”.

I’ve learned that “sleep” is not always an option with pregnancy or a newborn. Instead of focusing on the number of hours of sleep, I’ve started to educate about quality sleep. Perhaps, a referral to our naturopath could help with that!

And finally, I’ve learned that “self-care” during this busy and difficult time just means doing what YOU need to do to feel rested, prepared and healthy… whatever that means to YOU. 

I am excited to be a mother, but I am mostly excited to continue to become a more empathetic and relatable physiotherapist that can help ALL my patients, no matter their journey, find THEIR best self-care routine. 

Pelvic Floor & Paediatric Physiotherapist

Sandra graduated from Dalhousie University with a Masters degree in Physiotherapy after completing her Bachelor of Kinesiology degree with honours from McMaster University. She has worked with a variety of clientele but has developed a true passion in working with both the paediatric and women’s health populations. Sandra has extensive experience assessing and treating a variety of paediatric conditions and most recently has become certified as a pelvic health physiotherapist. She also has additional training in acupuncture and kinesiotaping. Sandra finds great value in guiding each individual through a tailored rehabilitation program to optimize their function and quality of life. In her free time, Sandra enjoys yoga, pilates, traveling and spending time with family and friends.

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