Keeping fit during pregnancy

Pregnancy and fitness tips

Studies have shown that women who keep fit during pregnancy often enjoy easier, shorter and less complicated labors and also, a faster return to fitness once their baby is born. Current medical thinking and research supports exercise during pregnancy because of the comprehensive package of benefits associated with maintaining your fitness. Here are a few tips to keep you in tip top condition during pregnancy:

These health and fitness benefits include:

  • Better circulation
  • Less unnecessary weight gain
  • Reduced swelling
  • Less abdominal discomfort

So, it’s the green light for exercise but before you begin training or continue with your current program, there are some sensible precautions to consider.

Keep fit during pregnancy

Keeping fit during pregnancy 1: Pregnancy symptoms

As your pregnancy progresses, your body undergoes many changes, not just visual ones like your developing ‘bump’. These include:

  • Weight gain
  • Changing blood pressure
  • Changing resting heart rate
  • Increased flexibility as the hormone relaxin is released
  • Variable levels of fatigue

You may also experience some or all of the following conditions:

  • Morning sickness (often disappearing after 12 weeks)
  • Increased sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Hormonal mood changes

Frequently, by the end of the fourth month most or all of the above symptoms subside and renewed energy levels and vitality are felt. If you have found it difficult to maintain your fitness because of the changes that your body is undergoing, by 16 weeks you often feel raring to go. Providing that you have no contraindications (medical reasons why you shouldn’t exercise during pregnancy), you can follow a sensible training routine for as long as you wish.

For the majority of women, following an exercise program during pregnancy is safe and provides a comprehensive package of benefits.

Keeping fit during pregnancy 2: Getting started in pregnancy exercise

The key point to remember when exercising through your pregnancy is to keep all your training at a comfortable level. Particularly if you have been a regular exerciser before becoming pregnant, avoid pushing too hard. The focus should be on general fitness maintenance and well-being, rather than competition and exercising to exhaustion. Follow the top 11 tips to ensure that you always train safely

Top 11 training tips for keeping fit during pregnancy:

Always keep well hydrated

You may find that you sweat more so paying extra attention to drinking is important.

Choose comfortable, loose-fitting clothing

Loose clothing will help keep you cool, particularly as your shape changes.

Allow longer recoveries

Your levels of fatigue will alter through your pregnancy so take extra rest when you feel you need to.

Always complete a thorough warm up and cool down in your session

Pregnancy affects your circulatory system so extend both your warm up and cool down to 15 minutes so that your body gradually adapts to the session.

Protect your back at all times

The back increasingly comes under load as your baby grows, so always consider your body position, particularly if carrying out resistance training.

Avoid exercising on your back after 20 weeks

After 20 weeks, the weight of the womb can cause compression of the inferior vena cava, which in turn can cause dizziness, numbness at the extremities and a lack of oxygen to the foetus.

Avoid over-stretching

Joints gradually become looser as your pregnancy develops, so avoid excessive flexibility exercises that could over-stretch muscles and tendons.

Consider your energy requirements

Combining exercise with pregnancy increases your calorie requirements so pay particular attention to your pre and post exercise nutrition needs.

Choose low impact rather than high impact aerobic activities

To avoid excessive pounding and also damage to slacker joints, try activities such as swimming and cycling and only jog if you jogged prior to pregnancy.

Ensure your footwear is supportive and has suitable cushioning

Good ankle and foot support is important, particularly in later pregnancy as joints become more lax.

Focus on correct posture and technique at all times

It is important to put extra focus into your movements and posture because as your shape changes, your body is loaded in different ways. Good technique is vital to ensure a safe exercise session.

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