No matter your current lifestyle and fitness level – whether you are a fitness junkie, fliting from gyms to capoeira classes, or a sofa slacker, whose cardio consists of bubble tea mall runs – pregnancy offers a good opportunity to either take things down or up a notch.
There are many benefits to getting active during your pregnancy. Many women report a decrease in those common bugbear symptoms of pregnancy, such as water retention, backaches or constipation, and also leads to a quicker postpartum recovery. Many of their babies also boast a stronger heart, leading to a lower BMI when they grow up, and a boost in their brain health.
Most importantly, exercise is perfectly safe for individuals without obstetric or pre-existing medical conditions. If you already have a heartpumping routine of your own, you can keep to it with a few pregnancy-specific modifications. Be sure to check in with your gynae first just to be safe, and especially so if you are going to try new or unfamiliar workout routines.
Before you start lacing up those sneakers or squeeze into those exercise sweatpants, how much exercise should you be getting and what sorts of exercise should you be doing? The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggests at least 30 minutes or more of the following moderate forms of exercise every day.
Walking is the easiest thing to do. It is a good form of aerobic exercise with minimal stress on your joints. You can moderate the speed according to how your body feels, brisk-walking if you want to get your heart pumping or slow down to enjoy the scenery, letting the fresh air infuse into your lungs. If you get tired, you can just stop for a stetch or take a break too, and better yet, you can keep doing this through each trimester of your pregnancy! Moving for 30 minutes through the estate or getting on the treadmill on rainy days work just as well as taking three 10-minute walks through the day. This means that it is undemanding and works for your busy lifestyle. If you like company, get your spouse or family and friends to join you and it becomes the perfect opportunity to bond and get fit together.
Jogging or running works as well for mothers who have already reached a certain fitness level. Even so, be sure to work at a moderate level of intensity, but ensure that it is below your normal threshold. Avoid exercising to the point of exhaustion. If you are able to speak normally while exercising, your exercise intensity is at an acceptable level. Rest if you are feeling breathless or dizzy. The experts also recommend that you begin each session with a quick warm-up, such as slow walking, and cool down with stretching exercises to reduce muscle soreness.
Swimming is another easy way to keep fit, and like walking, you can follow your own comfortable pace. The buoyancy from the water also ensures that it is low impact enough for you to keep going through the trimesters. Many often forget that you can often get parched while swimming so when taking a dive, and for all exercises for that matter, drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise to prevent dehydration and overheating. Avoid being under hot sun and reduce your workout intensity on hotter days.
Cycling on a stationary bike is another safe way to keep fit. It is safer than going outdoors and you can do it while scanning through Netflix. A simple set-up in the comforts of your home also means that you can hop on it whenever you’re up for it through the day and are not at the mercy of the weather.
Low-impact strength training are exercises that help to make your muscles stronger. It includes swimming but commonly has individuals working with weights or fighting gravity by walking up slopes. It’s a good way to keep your muscles toned during pregnancy. The same rules of keeping to a comfortable level applies to both weights and the gradient slope. So listen to your body and you will be fine.
Pilates was developed as a low-impact flexibility, muscular strength and endurance exercise for the purpose of wartime rehabilitation. It aims to improve balance, strength, flexibility and posture, which helps your body to cope with changes that come with pregnancy, especially the extra weight of your growing baby. Join a reputable class and you will be reaping the benefits of this exercise. Many mothers also appreciate how it later aids with postpartum recovery.
Lastly, avoid competitive and contact sports, especially those involving high jumps, jarring motions or rapid changes in direction. You should also expect a decline in overall activity and fitness level as your pregnancy progresses. This is normal as the physical demands of pregnancy increases. Most importantly, pay attention to your body and check in with your doctor if you are unsure.