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5 Best Low-Impact Postpartum Workouts to Try Now

Don't stress—try these low-impact postpartum workouts to get you feeling like yourself again.

5 Best Low-Impact Postpartum Workouts to Try Now

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There's a lot to think about postpartum—lists of postpartum supplies you'll need to heal, watching out for depression, anxiety and rage, and whether or not that first postpartum period is normal. (All after giving birth and prepping for your baby's arrival!) High on that checklist for many women is getting back into exercise.

Postpartum workouts may be extremely beneficial to helping your body heal, but it's crucial to get the timing and exercises right in. Here when to start low-impact postpartum workouts and which are best for you during this time.

When to start postpartum workouts

There are three main components to postpartum recovery, says Amy Meehan, DPT and founder of Revelle Physical Therapy in Atlanta. "It's best to think about them in three phases: recover, restore, return to workout." With that in mind, she says that starting to rebuild the core and pelvic floor can start as early as two weeks postpartum.

"Focus on restoring breath and mobility," she says. Then, move on to the coordination of your core, which includes the abdomen and pelvic floor. "Once you have adequate mobility, minimal to no pain and good core/pelvic floor control you're ready to slowly progress back into a workout routine," she says.

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This also depends on what kind of birth you have. "Both vaginal and C-section deliveries are traumatic on a woman's body," says Meehan.

"Doing too much too fast will slow the healing process and make returning to exercise more challenging." Because it can take 6 weeks for the cervix to close after vaginal delivery and 4 to 6 weeks after a C-section for your body to heal, it's best to take it slow and seek advice from your doctor before beginning any exercise.

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"Both need adequate time for rest and healing," she says, noting that for some new parents, this can be as much as 12 weeks.

Why low-impact postpartum workouts are ideal

While it might be tempting to try and get back to what you were doing before delivering or before pregnancy, Meehan stresses that postpartum is a state of stress for the body. "Beginning with low-impact workouts can minimize stress," she says. Focus instead on restoration and movement early on so that your body can undergo its natural healing process.

"It also ensures you stay injury-free as you begin working out postpartum," she says. "If you incorporate high impact too soon, the body doesn't have the timeframe or attention it needs for proper healing." Here are six low-impact exercises to try.

Walking

Meehan says that walking is a great place to start in postpartum if you're not pushing through pain, urine leakage or pelvic heaviness. "Walking is good for blood flow, mobility, cardiovascular health and muscle endurance," she says. It's easier on your joints than other exercises, and it could even boost immune systems and promote weight loss.

Goals to set

  • Start slow, with 5 minutes a day around the house.
  • By week 2, try to get outside to push the stroller for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Then, progress to 10 to 15 minutes three to five times a week.
  • Try to minimize hills
  • By weeks 3 to 4, you can increase time and or distance if you feel good.
  • Rest when you need it.

Gear you need

HOKA ONE ONE Women's Low-top Sneakers

HOKA ONE ONE Women's Low-top Sneakers are some of the best gear for postpartum workouts Merchant

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Look for a supportive shoe like this one from HOKA ONE ONE which is beloved for its fantastic support and lift. The full-length foam midsole offers a great amount of stability and absorbs shock well. These make getting back to pre-pregnancy fitness levels fun, easy and stylish.

Stanley Quencher H2.0 Flow State Tumbler

Stanley Quencher H2.0 Flow State Stainless Steel Vaccum-Insulated Tumbler is some of the best gear for postpartum workouts Merchant

Staying hydrated is super important throughout pregnancy and postpartum as your body goes into overdrive. This now-famous cup from Stanley holds 40 ounces, preventing you from having to go back to the fridge for water over and over again throughout the day.

It fits nicely in most stroller's cupholders and comes in stylish colors with a comfortable handle and easy-to-drink straw. Read our full review of this viral cup.

Yoga

Postnatal yoga can be great for postpartum workouts—provided you're not hopping straight back into a hot vinyasa flow, says Meehan. "Yoga is a great way to focus on diaphragm breathing, core connection and full body mobility," she says. Once again, take note of any pain, leakage, pelvic heaviness or coming of your abdomen, which she says is a sign of diastasis recti.

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This is one of the easiest postpartum exercises to start with.

Goals to set

  • Go slow—don't forget to give yourself grace.
  • Focus on breath and mobility.
  • Don't try to be too flexible in the beginning.
  • Two times a week starting around week 6 or 8 is a great place to start, about 30 minutes each session.

Gear you need

Lululemon The Mat 5mm

Lululemon The Mat 5mm Made With FSC™ Certified Rubber is one of the best gear for postpartum workouts Merchant

This mat was specifically designed for yoga and features a super grippy top layer that absorbs moisture, which is important if you're sweating excessively during postpartum. It helps retain resistance so you can do yoga moves properly.

It's also made from sustainably sourced natural rubber which makes it cushioned and comfortable. It's reversible and makes knees-bent moves gentler thanks to padding.

Gaiam Yoga Block

Gaiam yoga block is one of the best pieces of gear for low impact postpartum workouts Merchant

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Even if you're a seasoned yogi, your body might not bend and stretch the way it used to, especially as you ease back into your practice. A yoga block can help make getting into positions easier and support you where needed, such as your lower back. It is lightweight and durable and made from a slip-resistant material to keep you in place.

Freefly Women's All Day Legging

Freefly apparel all-day legging is one of the best pieces of gear for low-impact postpartum workouts Merchant

Any good piece of workout apparel should be moisture-wicking and breathable, and this pair from Freefly exceed expectations. They're also ultra-smoothing and soft with a barely-there finish while providing adequate coverage.

Core restoration exercises

As a physical therapist specializing in the pelvic floor, Meehan's partial to core restoration exercises as a way to get low-impact physical activity in while helping rebuild—and you can do it as early as week 2 postpartum. The core consists of four groups of muscles: the deep back muscles, diaphragm, transverse abdominals and pelvic floor, and all four need to be working properly to regain strength and coordination.

"Start with a focus on deep breathing with good rib motion," says Meehan. "Start on your back, seated or standing, and place your hands around your ribs." From there, expand and engage your core without crunching, holding your breath or bearing down. "On an exhale, think of zipping the lower belly in and up.

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Meehan says to work on your pelvic floor next. "Breathe in and relax your pelvic floor. Then, on an exhale, try to close and lift the muscles of your perineum."

Goals to set

  • Go slow and remember to ease into these movements for the first few weeks.
  • Focus on deep breathing with good rib motion.
  • Aim for 10 to 15 reps lying down, sitting, standing and on all fours.
  • Repeat one to two times a day as you can tolerate.
  • Add kegel exercises on days off from core training to get more benefits of exercise without straining yourself.

Weight training

Meehan says gentle weight training can be added in during the postpartum period when you feel ready, especially since you'll be lifting a growing baby and will want to condition your muscles. "Restoring core is just as important here," she notes. Keep weight light at first, starting with a heaviness where you can complete 12 to 15 reps with minimal fatigue.

"Focus on your glutes and mid-back, as pregnancy posture tends to turn these muscles off," says Meehan. Then, add in arms and legs as you feel ready. "This helps regain important postural muscles and other muscles you need to return to higher-intensity exercises," she says.

Goals to set

  • Go slow with strength training.
  • Start with light weights where you can do 12 to 15 reps without feeling super fatigued.
  • Start with your glutes and mid-back, as they are most likely neglected muscle groups.
  • Allow for adequate rest between lifting days as you might feel more sore, for up to 2 days after you lift.
  • Aim to weight train 2 to 3 times a week as part of your postpartum workout plan.

Gear you need

Amazon Basics Vinyl Hexagon Workout Dumbbell Hand Weight

Amazon Basics Vinyl Hexagon Workout Dumbbell Hand Weights are some of the best postpartum low-impact workout gear Merchant

When you're ready to add hand weights in, a light set ranging from 3 to 8 pounds will do the trick for most exercises. These from Amazon come in weight sizes ranging from 2 pounds to 20 pounds, with hexagon-shaped ends to keep them from rolling away from you while you work out.

Resistance Bands

Renoj Resistance Bands are some of the best gear for low-impact postpartum workouts Merchant
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If you need to do your weight training at home (newborn life!) then a set of resistance bands can help you work your glutes and mid-back. Use these for arm workouts as well. You may want to start with a personal trainer if you're new to using resistance bands.

These also make postnatal exercise easy to achieve just about anywhere.

Mat Pilates

"We love a good megaformer Pilates class, but waiting until you have a strong core connection is extremely important," says Meehan. Start with mat Pilates instead around weeks 6 to 8 postpartum if you're able to connect to your deep core muscles, also known as your transverse abdominals.

Mat Pilates allows for more adjustments and for you to concentrate on the movement rather than the pace, and build up your strength. Adjust how physically active you are with precise, targeted movement, and then work your way up to moderate intensity after several months.

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Pilates is especially good for pelvic floor exercises and strengthening pelvic floor muscles.

Goals to set

  • Go slowly and work at your own pace.
  • Aim to do mat Pilates 1 to 2 times a week as part of your postpartum exercise program.
  • Keep yourself out of more intense Pilates classes to avoid injury.
  • Focus on resistance rather than pace.

Gear you need

Ozaiic Yoga Socks with Non-Slip Grips

Ozaiic Yoga Socks for Women Non-Slip Grips are some of the best products for low-impact postpartum workouts Merchant

One of the foundations of Pilates is having a good grip on a mat or on the floor, and grippy socks can help you get the traction you need. This set of four is made from premium cotton with silicone dots to keep you from slipping and sliding while focusing on your exercises. They feature a cushioned sole, come in many colors and patterns and are machine washable.

This article contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you.

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Lauren is a writer, leader, content strategist and storyteller based in Atlanta, Georgia. Her work can also be found in publications such as Cosmopolitan, Reader's Digest (U.S.) and Ocean Drive Magazine

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