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Best exercises during pregnancy
Pregnancy is a very exciting, happy and wonderful time for all mothers- but it can also be downright terrifying. When it comes to your baby, you’re prepared to steer clear of anything that may cause he or she harm; but exercise shouldn’t have to be one of those things. In fact exercise can actually help prepare you for childbirth by strengthening your muscles and building endurance. It will also help in the long run once the baby is born and you want to get your body back into shape.
So what can and can’t you do? Exercising when pregnant should include activities that get your heart pumping and your muscles working, without causing undue physical stress for you or your baby. While you should always discuss your exercise regime with your doctor and adjust accordingly the further along you are, there are some exercises that are generally safe for expectant mothers.
Walking is one of the exercises that can be safely done throughout the entire nine months of pregnancy. It’s one of the best cardiovascular exercises and can easily be adjusted to suit your fitness level and stage of pregnancy. Walking is also a great way to keep pregnant women fit without jarring knees and ankles.
According to babycenter.com.au, “healthcare providers and fitness experts hail swimming as the best and safest exercise for pregnant women.” Swimming is great for exercising arms and legs and raising the heart rate without the risk of injury. It also allows for pregnant women to feel weightless, a rare luxury during the long nine months! Most swimming clubs also offer aqua-natal classes, which involve a series of movements in the water that can help lessen swelling in the legs, a common symptom in the later stages of pregnancy.
Yoga is great for maintaining muscle tone and keeping you flexible with little to no impact on your joints. It can help you become more supple as a result of its relaxation effects, which assists your ligaments in becoming more pliable. A combination of walking for cardio and yoga for strength and flexibility is perfect for expectant mothers.
It’s not such a surprise that the stomach and pelvic floor muscles are the ones that weaken most during pregnancy. Thankfully, a majority of Pilates exercises target those areas, which will help make them stronger and more resilient. Many Pilates exercises are also performed in a hands and knees position, which is ideal for pregnant women. It helps to take a lot of stress off your back and pelvis, and towards the end of your pregnancy can help to position your baby ready for delivery. Many fitness clubs and Pilates studios offer ‘pregalates’, which is a Pilates class specifically designed for pregnant women, so keep an eye out for those!
If you already use weight training as part of your exercise routine, there's no reason that you can’t continue this during the early stages of your pregnancy. Choose low weights and medium to high repetitions, avoiding heavy weights all together. It’s also important to make sure you position yourself correctly and don’t overexert yourself.
While exercising when pregnant is generally safe and often beneficial, it’s important to remember a few points:
- Avoid raising your body temperature too high. Don’t exercise to the point of heavy sweating and reduce your exercise level on hot and humid days.
- Don’t exercise to the point of exhaustion.
- If you don’t feel like exercising on a particular day, then don’t. Listen to your body and only do what you feel you’re capable of.
- Don’t increase the intensity of your exercise regime while your pregnant.
- Always work at less than 75 per cent of your maximum heart rate.
- If you feel unwell at any stage, stop immediately and always consult your healthcare professional if you have any concerns.
Do you think it’s beneficial to exercise while pregnant? Did you exercise when you were pregnant? If so, what did you find worked best for you?