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Unfit or exhausted? Can't work out my exercise levels

(39 Posts)
Chloe9 Sun 06-Oct-19 16:26:07

So recently I've been thinking I'm tired because I'm out of shape and need to go to the gym, but at the GP they said I was "very active" because I walk at least an hour every day. I have some health problems which can be associated with being unfit, so was thinking that I should exercise MORE but the GP has made me question whether that would just be putting a burden on my body if I'm already very active and could exacerbate my health problems. I would love to go back to the gym again and/ or workout at home, but the GP has made me think that maybe what I'm doing already is more than adequate so these health problems probably have less to do with activity and more to do with diet quality/stress/other causes. I think either way I'll try and find a yoga or Pilates class once a week because I've always enjoyed that, but am I crazy to think that the gym would be beneficial? Or will I just get more exhausted? Is walking 7-14 hours a week really so abnormal? Isn't that what everybody does if they don't have a car or use of a car for school runs etc.?

PullingMySocksUp Sun 06-Oct-19 16:29:54

What sort of pace do you walk at? Enough to get warm?

Whether you’re getting enough activity and cardio exercise from walking is one thing, even if you are there are plenty of bits of you that aren’t getting a workout.

blackcat86 Sun 06-Oct-19 16:35:06

I had some health issues and also wanted to get gym fit again but was advised so consider something kinder to my body like yoga, walking, swimming etc. HIT and heavy exercise is quite stressful for the body and you're already doing cardio in walking. Yoga would be perfect for a bit of resistance

DangerMouse17 Sun 06-Oct-19 16:50:38

Walking an hour a day isn't very active. That's just normal activity in my view. However I dont think cranking up the cardio is necessarily the answer if you have health issues. Yoga would be perfect and potentially a bit of weight bearing exercise/light lifting focussing on good form etc. Sleep and downtime is also key, so you can start really taking care of yourself OP.

nbee84 Sun 06-Oct-19 16:51:35

Walking is only a cardio activity if you walk at a brisk enough pace to raise your heart rate.

Chloe9 Sun 06-Oct-19 16:55:50

I walk very briskly (always have) and some days I walk a lot more than an hour (because I don't have a car). But my aerobic fitness is pretty dreadful. I get puffed out going up stairs or whatever. It was my post natal check so meant to be signed off as ready to exercise or not, but just left feeling fobbed off and confused. I have gone back to my full fitness routine too quickly in the past and injured myself so don't want to do that, but also was really looking forward to doing a class or two, and feeling more myself again. I had a high risk pregnancy so couldn't work out for 9 months (not that I felt like it anyway!). I love swimming but rarely find the time or have to take the kids with me so don't get to swim much (or at all if on my own), but would love to do a couple of classes, something like yoga, Pilates or yogalates for strength and flexibility, and something fun like boxing or dancing. Most people I know are running, cycling, swimming (or all 3), dancing, doing spin, yoga and HIIT classes most days, or in the gym, and I'm happy to never be back at peak fitness (as I used to be) but feel like I've lost a massive part of my identity and want a little bit of that back.

Chloe9 Sun 06-Oct-19 17:01:08


I wish I'd never mentioned it in the appointment but I walked into the appointment puffed out from walking there briskly, and I do always walk fast so I didn't feel like lying about it, but I've gone from being on my feet all day at work, exercising most days (classes, swimming, gym, running), walking loads and generally being quite active in my interests, to not being able to exercise for nearly a year now. I've developed health problems and depression since then. Obviously having my baby born healthy was worth that (and much more) but I'd like to get better now.

Chloe9 Sun 06-Oct-19 17:02:33

I think the GP might be off base, to be honest.

smemorata Sun 06-Oct-19 17:07:39

I walk a lot but can't run for the bus. I don't think walking means you are necessarily fit.

ivykaty44 Sun 06-Oct-19 17:11:36

You need to clarify with gp what they meant and give black and white examples of what you want to do.

Swimming, Pilates, yoga are very beneficial in many circumstances and may complement your walking - but you need to ask a physician

DangerMouse17 Sun 06-Oct-19 18:08:08

Yes I understand OP. I too as a single parent with no car, do loads of walking every day. I walk for hours...but I realised about 6mths ago that my actual stamina was rubbish. Puffed out washing the bath, that sort of thing. So I started a bit or running at the gym (C25K), am doing a bit of weights and a yoga class once a week. I finally feel now that I actually have endurance and fitness developing....climbing the stairs without huffing and puffing is now a reality!

So definitely do more if you feel like you want to. Just listen to your body and add one thing at a time....see how you get on.

Chloe9 Sun 06-Oct-19 19:08:48


I asked her whether I could do classes or gym again (the obstetrician advised me not to until after my post natal check as I had a high risk pregnancy and wasn't allowed during the pregnancy) and she told me not to bother as I was lugging my kids around and walking lots.

Bloomburger Sun 06-Oct-19 19:13:49

An hours walk a day is NOT very active.

To be classed as moderately active you would need to be a construction worker or be running an hour a day.

Chloe9 Sun 06-Oct-19 19:16:58

@DangerMouse17 I get puffed out and gave to take breaks doing the housework. I could probably walk 20 miles, but the next day I wouldn't be able to move, so not really fitness just I'm one of those people who just gets wherever I need to go that way. I am trying to use public transport more, but it's expensive and often unreliable and I know I can walk 3- 4 miles in an hour and mostly I'm going 1-2 miles so it's quicker to walk. I know people who drive everywhere and don't exercise, sedentary jobs etc. On one side of things, and on the other I know weekend athletes and gym bunnies. I'm happy to be somewhere in the middle, but the exercise I do now is functional not enjoyable or holistic, and I don't think exercise is just can you run for the bus (most people CAN) but are you comfortable running for the bus? Do you get puffed out? How long does it take you to catch your breath? Etc. And I think it being a quantity not a quality thing is the biggest thing. I have felt like I was dying and still walked 10 miles to and from work, that doesn't mean I'm fit or healthy, it meant I was too skint for the bus, didn't have a bike and really needed my next pay cheque.

Soontobe60 Sun 06-Oct-19 19:18:04

Your GP is correct. Although you walk an hour a day, your are still recovering from pregnancy. Getting back into heavy exercising too soon can result in injury as your ligaments will still be soft from pregnancy.

Bloomburger Sun 06-Oct-19 19:18:49

If you're puffed from a brisk walk you're far from fit.

Start doing some body weight exercises and instead of walking fir the hour have a little jog.

Can you see a PT who has a post natal qualification perhaps or a physio who is more clued up on what you should and shouldn't be doing after child birth.

Be careful though, don't do HIIT or high impact stuff if you're 20 weeks post natal or are breastfeeding. You'll still have relaxin I your system and it could result in a joint injury.

YeOldeTrout Sun 06-Oct-19 19:44:52

Something like 33% of people do NO physical activity in an average week. So yes an hour a day makes you very active.

There's a long tail of people who do lots lots more.
You should do the amount that fits with your life & makes you feel good.

Serenschintte Sun 06-Oct-19 19:54:15

Have you had your iron levels checked? Anemia can make you tired and puffed out easily

Chloe9 Sun 06-Oct-19 20:21:29

My iron levels are fine. I don't think I'm fit. I'm the most unfit I've been in my life. I feel my body is straining under the extra weight, joint pain, tension headaches, hypertension, can't run up stairs, the housework is exhausting, but I do walk about 10 miles most days, and about 2 or 3 miles the rest, out of necessity. I don't get puffed at about 3mph but if I'm going faster than that I'll get puffed (like a power walk not just a walk IYSWIM) and I usually push pretty tight for time so get a stomp on! I'm not breastfeeding. I just generally feel ill and run down and like there's something wrong in my body. I don't know if that's "just" because I'm less fit and heavier than I've ever been before, or if I'm actually sick. I think maybe I need a new GP, because I don't really feel listened to and just leave feeling like I've had a pat on the head. I'm seeing them again next week, but want to go better equipped than last time.

Chloe9 Sun 06-Oct-19 20:24:16


That's the thing, I feel run down and down, not sleeping well, etc. So even though it might not be nothing (can't believe 33%!) I'm not doing what id like to he or what makes me happy.

Bloomburger Sun 06-Oct-19 20:43:08

Regardless of how many people do nothing an hour a day does not make you very active. It just makes you not sedentary (which is what the people who do nothing are) I'm a PT and have to work these things out on a weekly basis for clients to increase their fitness and I run classes in which we have quite a few post natal ladies.

Bloomburger Sun 06-Oct-19 20:45:50

Do you walk an hour each day or 10 miles each day? Your first post says an hour, your last one says 10 miles (although I've just taken out my lenses so forgive me if I'm wrong).

ivykaty44 Sun 06-Oct-19 20:49:34

Glow go and see another gp and see if there is any reason medically why you can’t go and do gym classes

Chloe9 Mon 07-Oct-19 00:32:55


I walk at least an hour every day, many days two or three hours

Chloe9 Mon 07-Oct-19 00:33:48


As far as I was aware it was pregnancy related and I'm no longer under the obstetrician but I will check

MsMartini Mon 07-Oct-19 11:35:40

You poor thing. I think you need to clarify with the/a GP exactly what was meant. Make clear you really want to get back to more vigorous exercise. Lugging kids around and walking isn't the same if you like eg HIT classes, and I completely understand about wanting that bit of your life back. I'd ask exactly what the risks are if any, for specific classes or exercises, and tell them what you used to do and like.

Chloe9 Mon 07-Oct-19 23:20:12

@MsMartini I think maybe I need to just take it slowly and listen to/trust myself a bit more. Not run before I can walk ('scuse the pun) but get back into good habits. I don't want to leave it so long that I'm stuck in the habit of not exercising. I don't know how to say it to anybody, but it's like I'm a totally different person without exercise. It is my antidepressant, my stress release, my emotional regulation, my meditation, my therapy, my head space, I transcend the daily grind for the length of a yoga class, I feel weightless swimming lengths, and on top of the world on runners high, and when you're dancing and smiling with other people it's like you're part of something bigger then yourself, joyful and unifying and fun. Life is so serious so often, and doing "kid" stuff like jumping on a trampoline or an wheel barrow race can break up the monotony. Sorry, that probably sounds OTT. There are lots of things I thought I'd have to give up as a parent (and did so happily) but exercise was not one of them.

MsMartini Tue 08-Oct-19 00:02:54

You write beautifully, OP, and I get you smile. I feel like that too about exercise - and I came to it late.

Why should you stop - it clearly does you the world of good. I think there can be a bit of sexism about women and exercise - I remember an NHS campaign when my dc were little about housework counting towards active minutes. Sod that. they wouldn't say that to men. A woman at my gym was back in high-intensity classes when her baby was a month old. If there is something specific you need to be careful about, your GP needs to spell it out because you could do it accidentally in everyday life anyway. Saying vaguely don't overdo things is meaningless. And then you can tell your instructors and they can make adaptations. Start slowly and build up and see if you feel fitter and happier and sleep better.

ivykaty44 Tue 08-Oct-19 00:24:26


I often think humans are capable of much more exercise than we think, one hour a day is actually only 4% of the day

I’m over 50 and strive to achieve 8% each day and some Sundays aim for 16% -20% summer time and I’m getting 12% in each day and loving it!
I have colleagues half my age that think more than an hour a day will make them unwell and could end up being stressed by to much exercise at three x per week

But you said you’d been ill and under doctor so I’m being sensible and advising you ask

Chloe9 Tue 08-Oct-19 00:33:32

The obstetrician said "you should be fine to exercise as normal afterwards, but check with the GP at your post natal check." So I did and got told not to worry about it, basically. But obviously I'm not under the obstetrician anymore and I can't get a referral for pregnancy issues now that I'm no longer pregnant, so been sent back to the GP.

Chloe9 Tue 08-Oct-19 00:35:15


If cleaning counts (and doing the picking up) then I never stop!

ivykaty44 Tue 08-Oct-19 00:39:44

I would really encourage you to get this sorted, for your mind and physical health as it’s important to you - let us know 😊

MsMartini Tue 08-Oct-19 08:08:53

But if the obstetrician said that (the GP caveat sounds like standard pre-birth advice to me), then the GP comment sounds more like he was reassuring you that you were active - not that he was saying there was a medical problem with exercising properly. Honestly, I'd go back ASAP, say what you said below about how exercise makes you feel (which should make your GP's heart sing) and ask if there are specific things you can't do.

Chloe9 Tue 08-Oct-19 10:20:11

Thanks. I think I probably asked if I would be ok to the gym but wasn't specific about what I meant so the GP might have had an image of me in spin class or the weight bench, not doing a Pilates class or whatever, so it is probably my fault for how I worded it. I can't remember exact words now, but I do sometimes use "gym" as an umbrella term for everything From aqua aerobics to boxing to yoga to the elliptical and back again, and probably need to be Clearer. I will let you know how I get on. Thanks

MsMartini Tue 08-Oct-19 11:59:42

Not your fault OP - the GP should have asked what you meant and also established how you felt about it. Both are important. Good luck!

Stillinsistsheseestheghosts Tue 08-Oct-19 14:44:13

I couldn't wait to get back to exercising (mostly HIIT) after my 6wk check. Similar to you - for my mental health (space and joy) as much as physical fitness. In fairness, my check consisted of the GP checking my baby thoroughly and cursorily asking if I felt ok - nary a word about my stitches or any mention of relaxin. I got more info on that from google and gym instructors (both male and female) who either had dealt with this before or in one case, went and researched what I was able to do safely in her class and how to build back up to former levels.

With the best will in the world, a GP isn't necessarily the best person to ask about exercise. If you can afford it, you may be better off getting a few sessions with a personal trainer who has experience with post-natal women, as they may be more knowledgeable about how relaxin can affect you and what you should avoid doing in order to prevent injury, and also what sort of exercises you can/need to do if e.g. your stomach muscles are separated or you need to rebuild core strength. It might also be safer than just launching yourself back into aerobics classes and accidentally pushing yourself too far because you're one of 30-odd and the instructor doesn't know any of your history and isn't watching you closely... whatever you do, build up slowly and don't push yourself into an injury! Your body has been through quite a lot and you need to allow time to recover. Good luck!

ShinyGiratina Tue 08-Oct-19 16:42:29

There's walking, walking and walking, and unfortunately some walking while being active can just be draining rather than being fit.

I had inactive pregnancies due to SPD. By the time I'd gone through my tough births, my starting point was walking 100m down the road then back to bed to recover. That quickly built up to a couple of miles after a couple of months, but by then I'd got what I reasonably could out of walking. I gently built up with post-natal buggy classes and pilates DVDs. By about 5m, I was ready for mainstream classes again/ starting C25k. Second time the SPD stuck around and it was 5m before I realised I was now limping out of habit than pain and puffed up hills horribly because I'd been going so slowly for so long even though I did a good quantity of walking. C25K quickly improved my cardio health and stopped the puffing. Bursts of more energetic movement can be more energising than prolonged plodding.

The difficulty is that being post-natal, you are likely to be sleep deprived, not eating your best, depleted in nutrients too. Quick healthy foods rather than the easy option, supplements and taking opportunities to rest may also help. Defficiencies requiring more specialised support can often be necessary for new mums. Did you get out over the summer months to build up vit D for example?

SleepyKat Tue 08-Oct-19 16:45:28

I think exercise should be at a level where you’re out of breath, at least for a significant portion of it. Weight lifting possibly being an exception.

Exercise can boost your energy levels though you may feel more knackered initially.

Have you had stuff like iron levels, vit d and thyroid checked?

cjbertie Tue 15-Oct-19 15:08:31

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

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