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Running Mates

Frustrated by your postpartum pounds and looking for time to exercise again? A jogging stroller can allow you to take your baby along as you ease back into a fitness routine. As soon as your infant can hold her head up steadily and sit on her own (usually around 6 months), you can take her for a spin.

Ready to Roll

"Before investing in a jogging stroller, test-drive a few brands," says Daniel Fick, M.D., an associate professor of family medicine and orthopedic surgery at the University of Iowa. "Borrow a friend's stroller, take your baby with you to the park, and explore some of the jogging trails. You wouldn't buy a bike without riding it -- the same standard should apply when you purchase a jogging stroller."

Prices range from $100 to $500, depending on the frame engineering and extras like sunshades, cargo baskets, tire pumps, and water-bottle holders. Most models have three 12- to 20-inch all-terrain, air-filled tires. (The smaller tires are fine for fast walking, but the larger wheels give a smoother and safer ride for running.) Wide frames make jogging strollers virtually tip-proof, and lightweight, but sturdy construction provides a smooth ride. Some models even have shock absorbers.

Some other details to consider:

  • A low handle may not be comfortable for a tall parent. When you rest your hand on the handlebar, your forearm should be perpendicular to it. Some strollers allow you to adjust the height.
  • Lightweight strollers are easiest to maneuver.
  • Some models have two seats -- great for a growing family. And a couple of "triplet" varieties are designed not to tip over even if they're holding only one or two kids.
Happy Trails

To get the most out of the trip:

  • Choose quiet, wide trails where you don't have to fight for space. Also avoid bumpy terrain.
  • Go while it's light so your baby can absorb more of the sights and sounds around her; if you're walking, point out the trees, flowers, or colors along your route.
  • To ensure that you're alert and able to react to sharp turns or steep inclines, leave Fido, your Walkman, and your in-line skates at home.
  • Although you may be working up a sweat, remember that your baby is sitting still. On cold or windy days, dress her in a windbreaker or cover her with a light blanket.

Most babies love the motion of riding in a jogging stroller, but it's not for all of them -- particularly if you're traversing a rough road. If your baby is crying or looking anxious, slow down to help smooth things over.

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