Getting the Right Stuff

Depending on what kind of exercise you want to do, you might need a piece or two of specialized equipment. You may already have the basics, such as sneakers and workout clothing, but it's probably a good idea to invest in some new gear to help you feel more comfortable during those first weeks. The following sections cover a few items you may need and offer suggestions for where to find them.

Good Shoes

This is a must-have if you'll be jogging or performing another higher-impact activity because you can injure yourself wearing ill-fitting shoes that don't offer adequate support. You may also find that you need more supportive shoes than you did prepregnancy, or that the style of shoes you used to wear no longer work as well. During pregnancy, your feet may have gone through a variety of changes — they might be longer, wider, or flatter now. Your gait may even have changed. Shop around at discount shoe warehouses — often they offer last year's favorites at bargain-basement prices

Jogging Strollers, Bike Trailers, or Bike Seats

These items can make your life much easier. Bike trailers and jogging strollers provide the baby with support and shock absorption, and jogging strollers are generally easier to push on all kinds of terrain than regular strollers. These items can be expensive, but check with your church or parenting community before plunking down big bucks for a new model. Often, people give these items away, or sell them for a song and a dance. Also check your local Freecycle listings ( www.craigslist.org), your community and daily newspaper want ads, your grocery store bulletin boards, and consignment and thrift stores for gently used bargains. If you like to bike and run or walk, look for a bike trailer that doubles as a jogging stroller, which can save closet space and money.

Apparel

Don't underestimate the importance of a good, supportive running bra. Your breasts may be denser and heavier than they were prepregnancy, even if they aren't a lot larger. A bra that keeps your breasts in place without squeezing or compressing milk ducts is essential to your comfort (and to keep your breast tissue from breaking down and causing more sagging).

Home-exercise Equipment

A piece of home-exercise equipment you'll actually use can be a money saver, but the key words here are “you'll actually use.” Before you invest the big bucks in a system that can tone your butt, thighs, and belly in eight easy moves, spend a few dollars on a set of 5 pound dumbbells, and a book or DVD that walks you through simple weight-training workouts. If you don't ever use the dumbbells, you probably won't be inclined to use the all-in-one system, either.

One exception to that may be a treadmill or exercise bike. If you love to walk, run, or bike, but the weather makes it difficult some or all of the time, these items can be a nice compromise. You can jump on the treadmill when your baby's napping or put him in front of you in a bouncy seat and sing or talk to him as you run.

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