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Congratulations, you are pregnant! You CAN keep training!

By Patrick Drew, updated November, 2013

pregnancy exercisesCongratulations on finding out you are pregnant! If this is your first child… now comes the mild panic and total confusion… what do I do? What can I do? What should I do? Finding out that you are pregnant is a fantastic and wonderful experience and usually also comes with thousands of questions as you — the young mother to be — heads into the unknown. The good news is that there are many sources of information for your out there on all the topics you are curious about — including this one on fitness and training.

When it comes to our own health and fitness, exercise plays a crucial role in helping us to keep our weight under control, as well as our immune systems in check and our minds healthy and active. When women become pregnant, many of them sometimes, for obvious reasons, become much less active, and as a result gain extra weight on top of their pregnancy weight. The truth is that exercise is extremely important for women who happen to be pregnant, and just because they're limited with what they can and can't do, it doesn't mean that they should neglect their exercise regimes altogether. In this article, we'll be looking at why it's so important for pregnant women to exercise, as well as looking at a few simple, safe, and effective exercises that they can do in the comfort of their own homes.

So, why do pregnant women still need to exercise? — There are a number of reasons that you should become active and try to get some exercise whilst you're pregnant. The more exercise you get, and the fitter you are, means that when it comes to the hardest part of pregnancy, giving birth, you'll be able to cope much easier. As well as this, the fitter and more active you are, the more you'll be able to deal with your increase in weight, as well as your changing shape. Not only that, but exercising also means that you don't pile unnecessary pounds on, and once you have given birth, it will be a lot easier for get back down to the weight that you once were. As well as the above, exercise will also improve your mood and your psychological well-being, since exercise helps the brain to release endorphins, which are the chemicals responsible for making us feel happy and content.

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So, which exercises are best? — Like we said, just because you're pregnant, this doesn't mean that you have to give up exercise altogether. If you used to do an Ironman or run marathons, then obviously those types of training programs will have to be put on hold, but if you choose the right exercises, both you and your unborn child will be perfectly safe. If you were not particularly active before becoming pregnant, don't suddenly think you need to take up strenuous physical exercise to stay in shape. This could harm both you and your child. Instead, opt for simple exercise such as leisurely walks around the neighbourhood, or your local beauty spots. Always make sure to gently stretch and warm up before any form of exercise, and never push yourself too hard. Most importantly of all, make sure to avoid exercises that require you to lie flat on your back, especially after 16 weeks.

The more exercise you get, and the fitter you are, means that when it comes to the hardest part of pregnancy, giving birth, you'll be able to cope much easier.

Pelvic tilt and pelvic floor exercises are especially effective and beneficial for pregnant women. Take a look at this pelvic tilt exercise:

  • Stand up straight with both your backside and your shoulders up against a flat wall.
  • Make sure to keep your knees relaxed slightly.
  • Try to pull your belly button downwards, towards your lower back, causing your back to flatten up against the wall, and your pelvis to rotate forwards.
  • Hold this movement for 4 or 5 seconds and then relax.
  • Repeat this process another 10 times.

The above is just an example of a pelvic tilt exercise and pelvic floor exercises, as well as gentle forms of cardiovascular exercise are all great forms of safe and effective fitness boosting activity. Swimming is also a very safe and effective way of getting some gentle exercise. The main thing to remember is to not push yourself too far. Get your heart rate up slightly but don't physically exhaust yourself. Gentle exercise is a great way of coping with the day-to-day stresses of pregnancy, and as long as you know what you're doing, things will be absolutely fine.

If you are used to exercising then in many cases you can actually continue your normal exercise — just drop the intensity down to about 50% of your norm. Please note that if you normally do extreme exercise, such as run a marathon or go off-piste skiing, then these activities are not recommended — but most mothers would not want to indulge in them.

If you are used to exercising then in many cases you can actually continue your normal exercise — just drop the intensity down to about 50% of your norm.

In most cases the answer is to continue with what you are already doing — just do less of it. The benefit here is that your body's musculature is used to that specific form of exercise. When you get into the last trimester and as your belly grows — you will find that you end up having little energy to just get out of bed — let alone go exercising. This is quite normal — and you should listen to your body.

Please note that during pregnancy your body releases a hormone called relaxin, which helps to loosen your joints leading up to childbirth. Doing higher impact exercises while producing relaxin is not a good idea — so instead opt for low impact activities such as swimming, yoga (softer styles) walking, etc.



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