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Pregnancy exercise

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Enjoy exercise within your limits

“How much exercise is safe while I’m pregnant?” We get asked this a lot! The important thing to remember is to exercise within your limits, keeping it moderate and enjoyable. Always talk to your healthcare professional to get their OK first. Once you’re given the green light, as a rule of thumb, 30 minutes of light to moderate exercise per day will be beneficial for you when pregnant – and for the little one inside you too! So long as you are healthy and your pregnancy is uncomplicated...

Benefits of exercise during pregnancy

Whatever exercise you do, remember it needs to be low-impact and gentle on baby and you – so talk to your healthcare professional for advice. As well as increasing your energy levels, exercise in pregnancy can also:

pregnancy exercises

  • Make you feel stronger and increase confidence
  • Help you sleep better at night
  • Reduce the discomforts of constipation, cramps and backaches
  • Release endorphins to help make you feel happy and less stressed
  • Keep you looking and feeling great (baby too!)
  • Get you out and about, meeting new mums and mums-to-be
  • Prepare you for labour so you’re fit and ready
  • Help your body bounce back faster after the birth

Exercise in early pregnancy

If you didn’t exercise much before pregnancy, it’s best not to start a whole new regime once you’re pregnant without seeking advice. The same goes for fitness buffs – always check with your doctor first. You might not feel up to doing much at all, so just stick to as much or as little as you feel comfortable with.

  • Prenatal pilates or yoga (the relaxed breathing and stretching kind)
  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Cycling – as long as you stick to smooth, easy terrain. You might want to look into getting one of those gel padded or cushioned seats!
  • Classes – if you go to group classes, make sure your instructor knows you’re pregnant. They might be able to offer you specialist advice or tailor the class.
  • Weight training – only if you’ve already been training prior to pregnancy and your doctor has agreed it’s OK. Stick to lighter weights and positions you feel comfortable with.
  • Don’t forget to keep practising your pelvic floor exercises, too!

Second trimester exercise

Lots of pregnant mums get the sudden urge to exercise in the second trimester, thanks to a return of energy and the passing of morning sickness. Yay! Check in with your doctor as to how you’re tracking and how much exercise you’re doing, but remember to listen to your body and stay within your limits.

  • Prenatal pilates or yoga (the relaxed breathing and stretching kind)
  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Antenatal or aquanatal classes (like water aerobics for pregnancy)
  • Cycling – it may be safer to stick to an indoor exercise bike to avoid any falls. As your bump grows, your centre of balance changes so you’re more likely to lose it.
  • Weight training – if you’ve continued from pre-conception, you might need to ease off around now. Please discuss with your doctor for specific advice.
  • And again, your pelvic floor exercises. Don’t forget them...

Exercise in third trimester

As you start to get bigger, pregnancy and exercise are both tougher! But that doesn’t mean exercise has to stop – it just needs to slow down. Walks to the park, gentle aquanatal classes or pilates and yoga are all still great if you feel comfortable. Your balance may be off, so avoid anything like cycling that could result in a fall. And yep, you guessed it – keep working that pelvic floor!

Keeping pregnancy exercise safe

  • Wear a sports bra and supportive footwear
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Don’t get overheated for prolonged periods
  • Watch your balance (pregnancy alters your centre of gravity)
  • Listen to your body. If you feel dizzy, faint, cramped, tired, overheated or notice anything out of the ordinary – STOP! And contact your doctor.
  • Avoid horse riding, skiing, scuba diving and contact sports

Every mum-to-be is different, so always talk to your healthcare professional before starting any exercise program. 

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