Exercise can be very beneficial throughout your pregnancy, whether you have always been active or you would like to start living a more active lifestyle. It’s sometimes hard to know what exercises are safe to do. This is where Thrive Health Co. can help you. Our resident Accredited Exercise Physiologist Rachel Forbes has some know-how to share with you.
So why exercise throughout your pregnancy? Here are just a few of the many benefits;
· Exercise helps to prepare your body for the birthing process and recovery following birth.
· Exercise helps to reduce those muscle and joint-aches and pains that develop throughout your pregnancy, due to the many physical changes that are taking place with your body.
· Exercise also increases your energy levels and keeps a big smile on your face.
But how do I exercise safely? With many articles and research out there it is sometimes hard to know what exercises are safe and what we should avoid while Pregnant.
Here’s what you need to know;
Q. How often should I exercise?
A. Exercise most days of the week 4-7 days.
Q. How long should I exercise for?
A. Between 30 minutes and 60 minutes.
Q. What is a safe intensity to exercise at?
A. When exercising always follow the ‘Talk Test’. The Talk Test refers to your ability to maintain a conversation while exercising, so you are exercising hard enough that you are slightly breathless however you are still able to hold a conversation with someone.
There is also a ‘How hard are you working scale’ and you want to be sitting between a 4 and a 6 on a scale of 1-10 (1 means you completely relaxed, and 10 is the effort required to run a marathon.)
Q. What types of Exercise are safe to perform?
A. Walking, jogging and swimming are great for your cardio (your cardio-respiratory fitness). This means that when you perform cardio such as walking you are using your exercising muscles to help distribute oxygen and blood around your entire body. This takes pressure off of your heart, and due to a considerable increase in your blood volume during pregnancy, your heart will be very appreciative of this help. Cardio involves any movements that are low impact and use large muscle groups in a continuous rhythmic manner.
A. Pelvic Floor and Deep Core activation exercises – as bub grows and your tummy gets bigger, this increases the weight pushing downwards on your Pelvic Floor as well as the weight pushing outwards, stretching your abdominal muscles further out in front of you (ever wondered why your lower back gets sore?). This means we need to keep these muscles strong.
A. Stretching – perform slow and controlled stretches within a comfortable range of motion, hold for 30 seconds, and focus on your breathing throughout each stretch. Flexibility training is important for maintaining muscle length. As your ligaments and joints become relaxed due to hormonal changes, muscles tend to get quite tight as they try and help to keep you stable. Ask Thrive Health Co about our Preglates (Pregnancy Pilates) classes!
A. Strength Training is safe to perform with the help of your Accredited Exercise Physiologist to ensure you are performing a well-designed program with safe movements specific to you and your body changes. Help alleviate those muscle aches and pains, maintain a good posture and keep your body strong throughout your pregnancy, and to assist delivery and recovery post birth.
Q. What should I avoid?
A. Exercising while lying on your back
A. Exercises where your arms are up overhead.
A. Exercises that involve holding your breath or straining.
A. Exercising in the heat or at a high altitude.
The main thing to remember is do only what you can, keep hydrated, some days you will feel great and walk for 30 minutes with ease, other days you may be quite tired and only manage 10 minutes. Do what you can and remember moving in some capacity is better than not moving at all. Listen to your body and if any symptoms arise or if you have any concerns consult your Health Professional.
Come and join us at Thrive for our free Pregnancy Workshop on March 27th at 7pm. You will hear from our Pregnancy and Paediatrics Specialist Jemima Nelson, Midwife and Lactation Consultant Dianne Walsh and our Accredited Exercise Physiologist Rachel Forbes who will take you through some specific safe exercises to perform throughout Pregnancy. Hope to see you there!
It is important to note, that a pre-exercise screening process should be conducted prior to performing exercise while Pregnant. This involves getting the ok from your GP and having a thorough assessment performed by an Accredited Exercise Physiologist.
Artal, R., & O’Toole, M. (2003). Guidelines of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologist for exercise during pregnancy and the postpartum period. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 37(1), 6-12.
Written by Rachel Forbes. Accredited Exercise Physiologist B.ExSc AEP ESSAM