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Training and pregnancy
Pregnancy is a special time for those involved, yet many women believe that during pregnancy with normal weight gain and a changing figure, that sagging muscles are inevitable. But don’t worry, it’s not all downhill for your fitness. Maintaining an active lifestyle is important for your health and of course the baby’s health too. While you won’t be lifting any PB’s during your pregnancy, here is some helpful advice to keep you fit and safe along the way.
You must first gain medical clearance from your obstetrician. As I mentioned before, no significant gains will be made so it’s important that you don’t take on more than your body, or your baby for that matter, can handle.
A non-exerciser, or a relative beginner to exercise should seek help from a fitness professional before undergoing any sort of physical exercise program. Whilst pregnant it’s best to use high repetition, low weight exercises based around machines that restrict your range of motion. A more experienced trainer can use a combination of machine weights and free weight exercises.
There are many changes occurring within the body during pregnancy, one of which is the release of a hormone called relaxin. Relaxin causes all muscles and joints to be mobile beyond their normal means, particularly the pelvic joints, to help during the pregnancy and with the birthing process. As a result, instability and injury to the sacroiliac joint and pubic symphysis can potentially occur. Due to the nature of giving birth and the demand it puts on the body, and the pelvic region in particular, a strong focus of your training should be based around strengthening the pelvic floor and gluteal muscles. Ask you trainer for exercises to improve strength in these areas.
Now you are pregnant, your exercise goals will need to change. The intensity of workouts will need to be lowered and the types of exercises will need to be modified. Particularly as the pregnancy progresses and the foetus grows. A woman’s blood volume and core temperature both increase during pregnancy, so high intensity exercise that elevates the heart rate above 130-140bpm is not recommended as it can severely harm your unborn baby. Keep control of your heart rate with a heart rate monitor that clearly displays your HR while training.
Studies have shown that women can safely engage in resistance training for muscular endurance three days per week for 30 minutes throughout their pregnancy. It is also safe to partake in 30 minutes of aerobic exercise on a daily basis, provided intensity is controlled, as mentioned previously. Walking, swimming and cycling (on an exercise bike) are ideal for those not accustomed to regular exercise. They are low impact and low intensity activities that can easily be managed. Jogging is also an excellent form of aerobic activity, however, it is important to realise that if you have never jogged before, during pregnancy is not the time to begin.
When training, hydration is always important but becomes even more so during pregnancy. Your body may tend to heat up a lot quicker when pregnant so regular fluid intake is vital. Your baby may become distressed if you dehydrate. Once you are thirsty, you are already in a state of dehydration. Therefore drink water in small amounts on a regular basis before, during and after exercise to stay on top of hydration levels. Also, avoid working out in extremely hot conditions as your body will already be functioning at a higher temperature than normal.
A healthy body nurtures your unborn baby and provides it with the best opportunity to grow and develop safely. It also worth noting that regular exercise can help reduce the risk of developing hypertension, pre-eclampsia and diabetes during pregnancy. So while you are on this wonderful journey make sure you take care of the following;
• Gain medical clearance from your obstetrician.
• Seek professional advice for a suitable training program.
• Strengthen the pelvic region.
• Choose low impact and low-moderate intensity exercises.
• Control core temperature and heart rate while training.
• Aim to maintain general condition, not increase fitness during pregnancy.
• Exercise regularly.
• Ensure that your fluid intake is regular and consistent.
• Do not exercise in extremely hot conditions.
And stop exercising if you feel any of the following:
• Shortness of breath or dizziness
• Palpitations, Vaginal discharge/bleeding
Consult your health professional immediately if any of these symptoms occur.
If you have any further questions or would like some advice on your training during your pregnancy, please ask one of our friendly trainers at One who will be more than happy to help you out.