Exercising throughout your pregnancy offers great rewards, but how do you make sure that you exercise the right way and what differences should you expect?
Here is an article from Elizabeth Kamm who runs Lovefitbetsy – personal training for pregnancy and post birth. Elizabeth shares her top tips for exercise in pregnancy. Please visit her website www.lovefitbetsy.com for more information.
Why should you continue to exercise in pregnancy?
By strengthening your whole core and pelvic floor muscles means you’re well equipped to cope with the postural changes and growing weight of your uterus throughout your trimesters, as well as the birth itself. By maintaining your fitness and building your energy will also help keep that spring in your step as the trimesters progress.
By guiding mums through pregnancy AND after the big event – I see swift recoveries and mums who are in great shape, ready to embark on the activities of motherhood.
It is recommended that you consult your doctor before embarking on an exercise programme. This is important because your doctor will be able to identify any present or past medical conditions that may affect your own health or health of your baby.
Lovefitbesty’s tips about exercise during pregnancy compared to pre-pregnancy so you know what to expect.
*You have probably already discovered that within these first few weeks you have symptoms which make the idea of exercise about as appealing as "dental work!" These may include fatigue, nausea or simply feeling extremely off-kilter.
LFB TIP: Often a gentle exercise session can alleviate these symptoms and make you feel much better. Listen to your body and be aware of how you feel. If you still don't feel great, slow down and rest if needs be.
As Pregnancy progresses
*You will feel heavier on your feet as your weight increases.
LFB TIP: Low impact exercise coupled with strength work and stretching are ideal at this time. Swimming and stationary cycling can be great options. The increasing weight can make impact exercise, like jogging, uncomfortable. However, you don't have to "hang-up" your running shoes at this time, but it is likely the present body may be more suited to other activities. Listen to your body and if the exercise is not comfortable or feels wrong, replace it with something that feels right.
*Your centre of gravity will start to change with your new weight distribution. This will become more noticeable as your pregnancy progresses. Your posture is likely to alter and correct alignment will feel different. This may also affect your balance.
LFB TIP: Incorporate balance, posture correction and core strength work into your weekly exercise regime. This will help off-set the biomechanical changes you are experiencing, keeping you strong and aligned for every daily life. Note: Core strength work which builds a strong pelvic floor, abdominal muscles and back muscles is key to help you through your pregnancy and will help off-set the common complaints of pregnancy such as lower back pain.
* You may experience areas of tightness as your pregnancy progresses e.g. lower back, shoulders and breasts
LFB TIP: Include gentle stretching for areas that are tight, and work through a comfortable range of movement during exercise. “Stretch the muscles that have become tight and strengthen the muscles that have become weak”. Pregnancy yoga and specialist massage are also great to help alleviate muscle stiffness.
*Joint laxity and flexibility increase due to the presence of pregnancy hormones.
LFB TIP: Throughout your pregnancy, exercise staying pain-free and in a comfortable range, and avoid over-stretching. The pregnancy hormones can remain with you after pregnancy too, so use the same tip during the post-natal period.
*Sweating begins at a lower level of exertion in order to help cooling.
LFB TIP: Have cool water at hand during your exercise session and stay well hydrated (1.5-2 litres per day). Avoid overheating during exercise
*Your respiration rate increases (number of breaths per minute) and the quantity of air taken in with each breath also increases during exercise.
LFB TIP: Move with greater awareness and listen to your breathing capacity during exercise.. The Talk Test is a good indication of exercise intensity - the guideline is not to become over-breathless and to be able to hold a brief conversation whilst exercising.
*You may notice a progressive decline in your aerobic performance as your pregnancy progresses.
LFB TIP: Gently decrease the intensity of your exercise regime as your trimesters progress. This is not a time to increase fitness levels or compete in races. Exercise, in order to maintain your fitness. Note: With regards to exercise intensity, a good rule of thumb is to use a scale between 1-10, where “1” is “sitting at home watching TV” and “10” is working/ exercising at your absolute maximum. When you exercise aerobically, working around a “6” would be a very good level to maintain. Remember, how you feel during exercise after 12 weeks compared to 32 weeks is likely to be different, so a previous “perceived exertion” of “6” is likely to translate to a lower intensity of aerobic exercise at the later stage.
*You might be more conscious of self image.
LFB TIP: Treat yourself to some great maternity sportswear that’s breathable and comfortable to wear. Feel good and embrace this wonderful time.
In your 3rd trimester it is likely you may feel more tired than previously and the extra weight will have an impact on your energy levels and your motivation to exercise.
LFB TIP Be kind to yourself and slowly reduce the intensity of your exercise programme including the type of exercise, duration, weights, exercise repetitions and number of sets. Continue with your aerobic exercise, strength work, core and pelvic floor exercises. Aim to leave every session feeling invigorated rather than drained and exhausted. Incorporate rest, relaxation and restoration into your daily routine. Note: Rotation and twisting should be avoided if the abdominal muscles separate, or you are feeling discomfort.
For further guidance please contact Elizabeth at www.lovefitbetsy.com