Keeping fit during your pregnancy

Tailor your exercise to suit your fitness levels and pregnancy. Our fitness expert Rachel Berg from www.pushymothers.com explains the dos and don’ts for various activities

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  • Aerobics / Studio classes

    Super Fit

    It‘s safe to keep going to the gym in your first trimester. If you’re feeling queasy or tired, keeping active will help your general well-being, so adapt the level to suit. Don’t up the level of intensity. Mid-term and in your final trimester, it’s time to find specific pre-natal classes.

    Average Fitness

    If you always did a couple of gym classes a week, there’s no reason why you can’t continue. Remember not to feel silly if you can’t manage a move. Don’t be afraid if you need to downgrade. Lower options aren’t ‘easier’, they’re safer.

    Low Fitness

    Novices are better off seeking out pre-natal exercise classes. Power walking might do it for you, or there could be pre-natal aerobics at your gym.

  • Swimming

    Super Fit

    If you’re a ‘proper’ swimmer, you’ll probably swim horizontally (with your head in the water as you breathe at intervals). Keep this technique to avoid pressure on your back. Also, make sure you continue to drink plenty of water.

    Average Fitness

    Listen to your energy levels each session. If you feel any pain in your pelvis, change strokes (front crawl is safest). You can continue aqua aerobics as long as you tell the instructor you’re pregnant and stay in the shallow end.

    Low Fitness

    Swimming is a cheaper way to exercise and is easily accessible. You do need to try and get ‘horizontal’ in the water, though (e.g. not with your head poking out of the water like a turtle). Otherwise you’ll put unnecessary pressure on your back.

  • Running

    Super Fit

    It’s OK to keep running as long as you feel well. Race-wise, anything up to a half marathon’s fine until about halfway through your pregnancy. Choose lower-impact activities in your final trimester like power walking, cross training machine or swimming.  Always listen to your body.

    Average Fitness

    If you can normally cover 3-5k once a week, you can continue until your mid trimester. Power walk hillier routes to keep intensity without the impact.

    Low Fitness

    Walking’s great if you haven’t already tried running before you got pregnant. Get into the feel of doing it right by wearing proper kit and timing yourself as you go a certain distance (even if it’s just round the block), rather than just nipping out in your jeans for a stroll.

  • Team Games (like netball and hockey)

    Super Fit

    Chances are, you do these sports for the competition as well as fitness. But the pace is just too risky for a bump as you could easily fall over, or get hit by a ball or stick – and being on concrete makes it higher impact. Maybe think of other ways to stay involved, like jogging together and light training.

    Average Fitness

    Playing in a league when there’s been a place for you but not every week? You’re on the subs bench until the baby arrives! Think about how else you can be involved. Maybe the girls in the team fancy a swim then a coffee to discuss tactics.

    Low Fitness

    Absolutely no way should you start team games! But why not get into the team spirit by heading to the park with some other less active mums for a brisk walk? You might find you start a group trend that becomes a team when you’ve had the tots.

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  • Cycling (to work or spinning)

    Super Fit

    You don’t have to stop road cycling or spinning when you’re pregnant but safety is paramount, especially on the roads, so do take care. In class, make sure your seat’s at the right height so your knees can move freely. Cycle while it still feels comfortable, stay at a steady to slow pace avoiding fast sprint intervals. Alternatives would be a cross trainer in the gym.

    Average Fitness

    You can keep going to your spin class but drink lots of water and don’t push yourself further than normal. Never overheat when training. If your body no longer feels comfortable on a bike, opt for a prenatal exercise session instead.

    Low Fitness

    Spinning at this stage would probably make you sick. But you can try the static bike in the gym if you want to, that’s low impact. Make sure there’s room for your knees to move freely and learn how to use the bike properly first.

  • Kickboxing / Martial Arts

    Super Fit

    You must give up any contact boxing disciplines straight away.  Even though your muscles are strong, joint stability in the wrists, elbows, pelvis and spine are weakened due to pregnancy hormones .Opt for more controlled forms of activity like Tai Chi to complement your changing body.

    Average Fitness

    Kickboxing (or combat studio classes) may seem like a low impact option for a mum-to-be but often the speed and pace of these sessions are too fast, especially when your body is loose and vulnerable and the kicking action twists your pelvis. Try to find a postnatal studio class or try swimming.

    Low Fitness

    It’s not a good time to take up any new activities that aren’t prenatal specific. Keep an active lifestyle by getting off the bus a few stops early, take the stairs not the lift and aim to attend a prenatal group class.

  • Yoga / Pilates

    Super Fit

    Yoga bunnies are totally fine to carry on – apart from Bikram yoga (the one where you do it in a very hot room). Listen to your body. If you’re in pain, tone down the move or sit it out. In your final trimester look out for a pre-natal yoga classes.

    Average Fitness

    You can carry on, but make sure you tell your teacher and think about adaptations. Don’t lie on your back for long periods, avoiding any sit-up like movements.

    Low Fitness

    Despite the laid-back impression you might have yoga and Pilates are hard work for your body so ensure that you find a prenatal yoga/pilates session.

  • Golden rules for all pregnancy exercise

    • Drink plenty of water
    • Stop if ANYTHING hurts
    • Tell instructors that you're pregnant
    • Don't get too hot / over heat
    • Listen to your body

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