There is no doubt that pregnancy exercise is both excellent and necessary for you to do now that you’re looking out for two (unless your doctor has told you otherwise!).
Exercise will help you reduce your pregnancy-related symptoms, manage your weight gain and speed up your post-partum recovery time. However, you MUST make sure that whatever you choose to do is SAFE for both you and your baby.
I exercised during my pregnancy, but I only chose to do exercises that I enjoyed doing – like walking and swimming. I particularly liked swimming because it was non-weight bearing and it cooled me off (which was a huge help for my pregnancy-related overheating!).
For those of you who are looking for more than just swimming or walking, I’ve picked 5 questions from my subscribers that look at various pregnancy exercises and ask the question, “Is this exercise SAFE?”
(Please note: all of the following opinions assume that the subscriber has been given the OK to exercise by her family practitioner.)
“As a fitness instructor, how long I can continue doing high impact movements?”
I’m assuming that because you’re a fitness instructor you’re in good shape, which would make it okay to continue exercising during your pregnancy at a moderate intensity level – around 70-75% of your maximum heart rate (if you’re not in good shape, aim for around 60-65%!).
However, I’m not a big fan of high impact movements (i.e. jumping, step class etc.) because they can be vibrating on your joints (which are already carrying a big enough load). Also, your centre of gravity changes, which means you’re going to be much more likely to fall or injure yourself.
So, I recommend sticking to low-impact exercises, like swimming. You’ll find it better on your body – especially when your tummy starts getting bigger!
Question # 2:
“Now that I’m pregnant, can I run up and down my stairs for exercise?”
Good question! Although most of us have stairs in our house or office, I wouldn’t recommend it for a workout. Running up and down stairs countless times may seem like an easy pregnancy exercise to do, but it’s really quite vigorous. You have to be in very good shape – believe me, I used to get my elite athletes to do this!
Choosing stairs instead of an elevator, however, is not a bad idea if you’re just looking for a little activity here and there (just be close to the railing in case you lose your balance!).
For a more suitable workout, put on your running shoes and go for a brisk walk.
“Can I do abdominal work to keep control over my love handles (fat on the sides of my tummy)?”
I know you’re not going to like my answer, but now’s NOT the time to worry about your love handles. Although certain experts say that abdominal work is safe during pregnancy, I wouldn’t recommend it. Rather concentrate on core strengthening exercises (including training your transverse abdominal muscles – the deep ones!) and wait until after your baby is born to work on toning your tummy!
Now that doesn’t mean that you should let go of yourself, sit on the couch and eat the house – no way! It means to take care of yourself, keep active, eat healthy foods – and you’ll have LESS of a job taking it off after you deliver.
“I’m very worried about putting on excess weight, can I still do my 1-hour a day workout consisting of Body Combat, Body Attack, dancing and running?”
The general rule regarding exercise during pregnancy is that you CAN continue to do what you were doing pre-pregnancy as long as you lower your intensity to a moderate level.
I’m not quite sure what Body Combat and Body Attack classes are, but if they’re high impact (jumping) and aggressive (hitting), I’d recommend you trying something else. Exercises like the elliptical trainer, low impact aerobics, or deep water running (a very tough exercise when you’ve got the right form!) are better choices.
Pregnancy is not the time to try and improve your fitness level – rather it’s the time to maintain your existing level as best you can (remember, you’re now working for two!).
“Is it possible to tone my lower body while I’m pregnant?”
YES! Some great exercises that you can do now to tone your lower body are lunges, inner thigh squeezes, leg extensions, and bum raises off the ball.
Now you’re not going to be doing the intense legwork, so you probably won’t see drastic results. But every little bit helps and it WILL make you feel a whole lot better about the way you look (trust me!).
I would, however, be cautious about other pregnancy exercises – for example, avoid anything that puts pressure on your back, like the leg press machine.