What are the Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to exercise during pregnancy? by Annette Buckley. Prenatal Fitness Expert, MySpringDay.com.au
It is widely acknowledged that exercise during pregnancy promotes health & wellbeing for mothers-to-be; however there are some important guidelines to know and follow before you embark on your pregnancy exercise regime.
Below is a list of the Top Ten Do’s and Don’ts for exercising during pregnancy. Before you start your exercise regime; even if you have exercised previously – you must see your obstetrician or health care professional to obtain clearance. Modifications need to be made to many activities during pregnancy, as our bodies change both muscle skeletally and physiologically.
1. Do Listen To Your Body
If you cannot speak while exercising then you need to slow down. It is best to work at a ‘moderate to moderately-hard’ level of exertion. If you were to scale how hard you feel like you’re exercising on a scale from 0-20 (0 being no effert, 20 being maximal effort), you should aim to exercise between 10-15.
2. Do Warm Up/Cool Down
Increase the time you spend doing your warm up and cool down. Aim for between 5 to 10 minutes at the start and end of each session.
3. Do Low to Moderate Aerobic Activity and Strength Training
If you are not accostomed to high impact activities, find low impact alternatives such as walking, swimming, aqua aerobics and stationary cycling which use large muscle groups. Strength training within the same session can be a useful way of breaking up cardiovascular training.
4. Do Low to Moderate Resistance Training
Machine and/or cable weights are preferable to free weights. Due to the increase in relaxing and other hormones, your centre of gravity will be changing and your joints will become looser. Repetitions should be kept within the 12 to 15 range. Speak to a trained professional regarding resistance training as some exercises are not suitable during pregnancy.
5. Do Exercise Most Days of the Week
Performing exercises regularly over the period of a week is great, but avoid overdoing things and ensure you are getting regular breaks and plenty of rest. Ensure you only exercise once per day, no multiple sessions, other than for short bursts of cardiovascular training and be aware of how you are feeling to avoid potential fatigue.
6. Do Hydrate and Take Regular Breaks
Drink 1 Litre of water per day for every 25 kgs of body weight and ensure you are consuming water before, during and after your workout.
7. Do Dress Comfortably
This includes both clothing (breathable maternials with a supportive sports bra) and shoes, good ankle with foot support.
8. Do Corrective Posture Exercises
These will improve any postural imbalances as a result of pregnancy.
9. Do Work on Deep Abdominal Muscles
This includes transverse abdominus, as these muscles are used to support the spine and lessen back pain issues. These muscle also play a key role during child birth issues.
10. Do Perform Exercises on the Pelvic Floor Muscles
Making a habit before bed or at each red traffic light on the way to work is a great way of getting into the routine of performing these daily.
1. Don’t Perform Risky Exercises
If there is a risk of falling or potential injury it is best to avoid the activity, it’s just not worth it! Examples include: snow skiing, snowboarding, surfing, water skiing, jet skiing, horse riding etc.
2. Don’t Stress the Joints
Activities such as running, jumping, boxing and tennis may place excessive stress on joints, especially if you are not accostomed to these activities.
3. Don’t Participate in Supine Exercises
Supine exercises (that is lying down with your face up after 16 weeks results in a decreased blood flow to the uterus). Use an incline bench up until 28 weeks for any resistance work that requires this, then train seated on a fit ball or a bench.
4. Don’t Perform Crunches or Excessive Abdominal Work
This increases the chance of a split / separation in the rectus abdominus muscle.
5. Don’t Perform Exercises that Jerk, Jolt or Twist Your Body
These movements put additional stress on joints that are already overloaded during pregnancy.
6. Don’t Hold Your Breath While Training
7. Don’t Train at High Altitude (>2,500m)
8. Don’t Make Quick Directional Changes
With the centre of gravity changing during pregnancy and balance being compromised, these sorts of activities increase the risk of injury.
9. Don’t Overheat
Keep hydrated and exercise during the coolest part of the day or in an air conditioned gym / studio.
10. Don’t Expect Fitness/Strength Gains
Instead, focus on maintaining fitness and strength while remaining active. Pregnancy is the time to focus on the changing needs of your body via postural correction and flexibility training to ensure you are healthy and fit to cope your birth and the demands of motherhood.
Remember to Stop Exercising if You Experience:
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea or vomiting
- Chest pain or heart palpitations
- Dizziness or faintness
- Hot flushes, or if you are getting hot and sweaty
- Joint pain
- Abdominal cramps
- Back pain
- Decreased foetal movement
- Vaginal bleeding
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