Just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you need to become a stranger to the gym until your baby is born. In fact, research proves that exercising when you’re pregnant can help you to sleep better, may reduce aches, pains and constipation, can stabilise hormones and may even make the birthing process easier.
Experts reckon that pregnant women should get about 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week, but a lot can depend on your current fitness levels and stage of pregnancy.
What is clear is that there are some exercises that are more suitable for pregnant women than others. Indeed, exercises that put you at risk of falling or put pressure on your back or baby are best avoided. Here are some exercises to consider.
Yoga is a great choice of exercise for those who are pregnant, and there may even be prenatal yoga classes available at your gym. While some poses are best avoided (such as those where you need to lie flat on your back), others, such as the cow pose, can help your body adapt to its changing shape. In particular, this pose helps to strengthen your core and upper body. The breathing exercises also help you feel calm and can boost blood flow to your baby.
If you were into weight lifting before you got pregnant, you can still enjoy it whilst you’re expecting, although you might need to make some modifications to ensure you and your baby stay safe. The golden rule is to stick to lower weights than you’d normally choose but compensate with more repetitions. Avoid any isometric movements where you hold a pose as you might forget to breathe, which could cause dizziness.
Swimming and water aerobics are ideal activities during pregnancy, as you won’t feel the weight of your body in the water. It’s especially suitable for those entering their third trimester who may be experiencing aches and pains such as sciatica or swollen ankles, as water exercises can gently loosen ligaments and joints. Take care not to slip when entering the water, however, and consider wearing aqua shoes that have a grip.
Pregnancy can affect your balance, so if you cycle you risk falling off your bike. However, if you don’t want to give up cycling during pregnancy, most gyms have static bikes that will keep your balance on an even keel. You might even be able to join a spin class. Cycling is a great choice during pregnancy as it doesn’t exert any pressure on the knees or joints, but make sure you’re comfortable on the bike and avoid leaning forward as this puts pressure on your back. If you take a spin class, you might need to slow things down a little and, certainly, always stay seated during movements.
There’s no need to avoid the treadmill just because you’re pregnant. Indeed, this is a great machine for ensuring you get an adequate cardio workout. The beauty of the treadmill is that you can control the speed and terrain. During pregnancy, it’s generally a good idea to stick to flat walking on the treadmill, but if you were an active runner before you got pregnant, throwing a few climbs or runs in won’t harm your baby if you feel up to it.
Whatever exercise you choose, it’s often a good idea to get advice from your doctor, midwife or an exercise professional to make sure the activity is suitable for you. Only do what you can manage and stop if you experience any pain or discomfort. Make sure you top up your fluids – aim for around 16 ounces of water every half an hour of activity.