When you’re pregnant, your body becomes more difficult to control. Your bladder, stomach, back and emotions start doing their own thing and you have to clean up whatever comes after. However, you do have control over your fitness levels and health.
According to experts: “Exercise is not a process that needs be eschewed or prevented during pregnancy. Reasonably performed exercise doesn’t appear to cause harm and may, in fact, have benefits.”
The key to maintaining your fitness levels when you are pregnant is to find a reasonable level of exercise. This will depend on the shape you were in before pregnancy, the activities your body was comfortable with, and your health during pregnancy.
Before you take on any fitness journey during pregnancy, however, consult your doctor.
Maintaining fitness when pregnant
If you didn’t exercise before conceiving, try incorporating some moderate aerobic activity, like walking or swimming, and some flexibility and strength work, like yoga, into your daily routine. Experts say that 20 to 30 minutes of brisk walking three to four times a week is enough to maintain your fitness. If you want to minimise weight gain during the pregnancy, four to five times a week at the gym is ideal.
The following types of aerobic activities are ideal for pregnant women: brisk walking, swimming and water aerobics. Not only does water relieve some of the weight and strain of your body but it helps rid your body of excess fluid and minimize oedema. Water sports also carry little chance of physical injury. A great benefit is that water resistance helps tone and strengthen muscles.
The deep breathing exercises relaxes and centres you. It helps prepare you for the focused breathing you’ll need during labour and tones abdominal muscles. It’s a good all-round muscle strengthener too. Remember to let your Yoga instructor know that you’re pregnant. This is because certain poses are not recommended for women who are pregnant.
Pre-natal exercise classes
You can also sign up for an exercise class designed specifically for pregnant women. Having a trained instructor on hand to make sure you’re performing exercises correctly can reduce the chances of injury. It also helps if you can chat to other expectant moms and share tips.
The conditional athlete
Research has shown that women who did perform prolonged bouts of high-intensity, weigh-bearing exercise – and continued these activities when they became pregnant – were not only conditioned to handle the physical changes that occur from more strenuous workouts, but that they had easier, healthier pregnancies.
According to experts, overexertion can cause a dangerous reduction in blood flow to the foetus. This means that whenever you feel fatigued when you exercise you need to stop what you’re doing immediately
Rather than targeting a specific heart rate, like common exercisers do, experts recommend that pregnant women need to pay attention to “perceived exertion”. This is how hard you’re breathing.
“You don’t want to push yourself beyond your individual tolerance level, and the best measure of that is your own breath,” experts say. “You should never be breathing so hard that you can’t speak.”
You will feel different from one day to the next, its one of the many things that you lose control of when you’re pregnant. Listen to your body and exercise according to how you feel that day.
In short, you can easily maintain your fitness levels by adjusting your previous fitness routine or by creating a new one to suit the conditions of your pregnancy. Brisk walking and water-based aerobics are great for beginners. As we said in this article, women who were exercising before pregnancy are conditioned to be able to continue their original routines – with a few modifications.
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