Top 5 Pregnancy Exercises

Gaining weight during pregnancy is an expected (but not always welcome) part of the process. But there’s no need for your fitness level to drop. Pregnancy exercise is important for maintaining not only your health, but also the health of your baby.

Exercising while pregnant will to help prepare you for the delivery. As all mothers will know, endurance and stamina go hand in hand with a natural delivery, so the fitter you are, the better your endurance will be. Keep in mind that maintaining an exercise regime will also allow for a quicker return to your pre-pregnancy weight.

Pregnancy exercises also help with back pain, water retention, constipation, sleeplessness, and they decrease the chance of varicose veins and even postpartum depression.

Here are our top 5 pregnancy exercises:

Running seem like it should be off limits when you are pregnant, right? If you are not a runner normally, it’s best not to start the minute you get pregnant. However, if running has always been part of your life, then pregnancy should not impact your routine—merely the intensity of it.

Don’t overdo it! It is ill-advised to overheat your body while your baby is still forming, and you should never be too breathless. So say no to marathons!

Jogging takes a toll on your knees, so as you get bigger throughout the pregnancy, it may be best to switch to a lower impact exercise. For the non-runners out there, a daily brisk walk is perfect.

Swimming is one of the best pregnancy exercises, particularly in the latter half of your pregnancy. It works your arms, legs, and cardiovascular health, alleviates joint pain and allows you to feel weightless.

Aqua-natal classes are always growing in popularity, as they are specifically designed for the needs of expectant mothers. They combine aerobic exercise and birth preparation exercises, and provide an interactive space for socialising with other pregnant women in your local area.

Miranda Kerr claims yoga was the secret behind her post-baby body, so make it yours too! The stretching involved in yoga can ease your body’s aches and pains, and the breathing patterns and mind relaxation aid in physical and mental preparation for the birth.  Just avoid Bikram Yoga!

In a similar manner, Pilates improves coordination and core strength. Most importantly, it strengthens your tummy muscles so that you are better equipped to cope with the physical strain of a baby. Improving the strength of your pelvic floor is vital for maintaining your bladder, bowel and uterus, which often cause discomfort and embarrassment during pregnancy.

Doing regular low impact dance aerobics (i.e. no high kicks or leaps etc) does wonders for your cardiovascular health, as does water aerobics.

For more experienced athletes, it’s simply best to reduce the intensity of your aerobic workouts, as leaving yourself breathless also leaves your baby breathless. Essentially, low impact is the way to go.

Pelvic Floor Exercises
Not only can you do these at home, pelvic floor exercises will stop the likelihood of urine leaks during and after your pregnancy. The benefits include a shortened second stage of labour (when the baby is pushed out) and increases of blood to the perineum after birth, which is often traumatised by the delivery.

As an added bonus, strong pelvic floor muscles are linked to an increased likelihood of orgasms during intercourse!

What did you do to stay fit during your pregnancy? 

March 5, 2014

3 Easy Pregnancy Exercises For The Third Trimester

During your third trimester it’s completely normal to feel exhausted by even small amounts of exercise. However, as you get closer to your little one’s delivery, exercise is an important part of making sure your labour goes smoothly. Try these easy pregnancy exercises to stay in top shape during your third trimester.

As easy as a walk in the park
You might notice it’s a little harder to breath as you slip from the second trimester to the third; it’s normal for the baby bulge and swelling to compress the lungs. Despite how much harder that makes walking, it’s important to find a way to keep a little bit of cardio in your routine. It will help to reduce physiological stress, making labour much easier.

But when you can barely get off the couch, how do you handle the treadmill? First, consider a change in scenery. By walking through a local park or just around the block, you can spend time with nature, helping to reduce stress by spending time outdoors in the fresh air. Not only that, but it’s easier to go at your own pace.

At this stage of pregnancy, t’s best to keep walks down to 10 minutes, at around half of the speed you think you can walk. It’s still important to squeeze in a half hour to an hour, but spread it out over the course of the day rather than all at once.

Take to the water
Like the last exercise, this pregnancy exercise keeps things simple. With all of the extra weight and the swelling, the water helps to relax your muscles by providing a sense of weightlessness. During this time in your pregnancy, you’re probably dealing with pain from swollen ankles; spending some time in the water will help to reduce the soreness.

Stretch it out with prenatal yoga
Prenatal yoga is one of the best ways to spend the last trimester of your pregnancy. This form of yoga helps to not only prepare your body for labour physically, but also mentally. Even after the yoga session is over, your body will be in a greater state of relaxation, and mentally you may feel less anxious. Yoga will give you a handle on deep breathing long before the delivery date. As you near your due date, focus less on the stretches and more on deep breathing.

The key thing to remember about exercise in the third trimester is to keep it simple and short. It’s best to focus on easy exercises. Most importantly, check in to make sure you aren’t overdoing it; always bring water whenever you exercise, even on a short walk. Space out your exercise, working out every other day, and as you get closer to your delivery date relax!

What are your favourite third trimester exercises?

February 3, 2014

3 Easy Pregnancy Exercises For The Second Trimester

Exercising may seem challenging or risky during your pregnancy. However, exercising is crucial in maintaining good health for you and baby, and there are many safe pregnancy exercises that you’ll enjoy doing. Here are three easy second trimester exercises.

1. Walking 
Walking is the safest exercise you can practice in your second trimester. Walking, as a low-intensity form of exercise, is great for burning calories and staying active in the outdoors without falling too short of breath or getting dehydrated. Walking around your neighborhood where there are slight hills is even better for achieveing a stronger, more sculpted butt, and firmer legs and thighs. Aside from the physical benefits, walking also promotes cardiovascular health, which is essential for a safe, healthy pregnancy.

2. Prenatal yoga 
Prenatal yoga is specifically designed for pregnant women throughout their pregnancy. Yoga is not only excellent for improving your strength and balance, but also for mental relaxation, stress and anxiety relief. Yoga is also effective at alleviating cramps and the chronic lower back pain often experienced during the second trimester of pregnancy.

Another advantage of prenatal yoga is the breathing practices. Yoga emphasises proper breathing techniques, making it the ideal choice for pregnant women as proper breathing is imperative when giving birth.

3. Free weights 
While heavy lifting may seem risky, using light dumb bells to work out is a great way to stay fit during pregnancy and to prepare you for lifting and carrying your baby. Use 1.5kg or at most, 2.5kg dumb bells to perform 10 reps of bicep curls, tricep curls, military presses, lunges, squats and more. You can even incorporate free weights into your walking routine for an increase in the amount of calories burned.

What are your favourite pregnancy exercises during your second trimester?

January 21, 2014

5 Easy Pregnancy Exercises For the First Trimester

The first trimester of pregnancy can be exhausting, thanks to all the changes happening in your body. Regular exercise will help you to stay limber and flexible and help you to return to your pre-pregnancy shape and weight faster.

Women who are already in shape should continue their exercise routine to stay strong and healthy. Women who aren’t in shape should begin working out with simple pregnancy exercises. It’s the ideal time to begin preparing your body for the changes it’s going to undergo and to stay fit and healthy.

Exercise #1: Cat Squats
This warm-up pregnancy exercise is ideal for strengthening the body to prepare you to give birth. Stand up straight with your hands on your head. Legs should be slightly more than shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees and lower your body as slowly as you can at a 90 degree angle. Push yourself back into the starting position. While perfect for strengthening the body in the first trimester, it’s also good later in pregnancy and can help get the baby into the correct position to push.

Modify this exercise by leaning against a wall and lowering into the squat position.

Exercise #2: Prenatal Yoga
Yoga is a low-impact full-body exercise. Although it can be done at any time during pregnancy, it’s best to start during the first trimester, before your growing belly throws off your balance. Although most forms of yoga are safe for the developing baby, the movements in prenatal yoga are specifically designed for pregnant women and their changing abilities. Yoga also has the added benefit of teaching you how to breathe, which can help during labour.

Exercise #3: Pliés
This ballet move works out the quads, hamstrings and bottom, which prepares the body for labour and delivery. It also helps improve balance. Standing beside a sturdy chair, spread feet out so they’re more than shoulder width apart and turn out your feet and knees about 45 degrees. Slowly bend your knees and lower your torso without leaning forward. Keep one hand on the chair to maintain balance.

Exercise #4: The Clamshell
To complete this move, a popular Pilates thigh firming exercise, lie on the ground on your side, with your knees bent on a 45 degree angle. One leg should lie flat against the ground. Slowly separate your top leg, raising the knee as you leave your ankles together. Try not to move your pelvis and don’t lift your lower leg off of the floor. Do one set of 15 repetitions, then switch sides.

Exercise #5: Modified Push-up
Strength training is also important, particularly for the arms, because once the baby arrives, you’ll be carrying him or her all the time! The modified push-up involves bending your knees and crossing your ankles behind you, then bending your arms to lower your chest until it nearly reaches the floor, then pushing back up. As you get better, pause with your arms bent.

Remember to include a warm-up and a cool down every time you exercise. Walking is another excellent cardio activity because it works out the whole body in a low-impact manner. Stretching is a great cool down because the muscles are already warmed up and less likely to be unintentionally injured.

What pregnancy exercises do you recommend for women in their first trimester?

January 16, 2014

Safe And Healthy Pregnancy Exercises

Staying active and fit during your pregnancy is very important not only to the welfare of your baby, but also to you, as it will help you with the labour process and to get back into shape after birth. Starting an exercise program early on will help facilitate a healthy pregnancy.

Safe pregnancy exercises

Not all forms of exercise are safe, but these guidelines should give you an indication on how to get going:

* To avoid any abdominal discomfort, exercise a minimum of two hours after eating
* Warm up before and cool down afterwards so that your muscles are supple
* Be sure to drink lots of water before, during, and after your workout so that you are constantly hydrated
* Exercise regularly – try to do something three times a week, even if it just walking for half an hour
* Don’t ever overdo it! Remember that you are pregnant, and therefore should not be doing anything that is too strenuous. You should be able to have a conversation during your pregnancy exercises – if talking makes you breathless then it’s time to take it down a notch

The safest forms of exercise for a healthy pregnant mother are swimming and walking, so you don’t have to go lift weights or jump on the step machine – you can simply walk around the block if you don’t have access to a pool. Yoga is also a great form of stretching and exercise, just make sure that your instructor knows how far along you are.

There are, of course, some exercises that you should avoid altogether. Pregnancy affects your body in a number of ways, so with your centre of balance being shifted, strain on your lower back and thinner abdominal muscles, stay away from the following:

* Double leg raises
* Full sit-ups
* Hopping, jumping, skipping
* Any exercises that cause or require you to arch your back
* Any exercise or movement which requires fast action or moves and a good balance – this will be difficult for you to do anyway

Very importantly, do not do any exercises where you are on your back for longer than one minute. The weight of your baby bump will put pressure on the main blood vessel that brings blood back to your heart, and ultimately, cause you to faint.

You will very quickly discover what you can and can not do, so be sure to listen to your body. This is not the time for you to take on a whole new sport, so take it slow. If in any doubt, speak to your doctor first to get further advice.

What were your favourite pregnancy exercises when you were expecting?

August 27, 2013

How to Exercise During Pregnancy

Maintaining fitness is important to improving health, improving your mood and self-image, but when pregnant there are also additional benefits.

Exercise during pregnancy can help prevent problems such a pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, as well as many other physical and mental demands of being pregnant, though choosing the best activities is a foremost concern.

Regular exercise can help you deal with many uncomfortable side effects of pregnancy, including back ache, fatigue and constipation. Staying fit and healthy will also prepare you for the demands of labour and help to keep mother and baby well.

Exercises to avoid during pregnancy

When pregnant, it’s best to avoid activities where you might be thrown off-balance or have a hard fall on your belly. Sports to steer clear of include horse-riding, cycling, skiing, gymnastics and water skiing.

Diving is also unsafe during pregnancy. Scuba divers must decompress as they return to the surface of the water, and developing babies may have difficulty decompressing.

Ball sports are also risky as you may be hit in the stomach.

Exercises for a healthy pregnancy

Don’t overdo it when you’re pregnant, but aim to exercise for about 30 minutes, 3 times a week. As a rule, you should be able to hold a normal conversation while you’re exercising.

Exercising too often may make you more likely to give birth to a small baby, while high-impact workouts may put too much stress on your joints and pelvic floor muscles.

Great pregnancy exercises include yoga, walking, spinning and going to the gym. Water based sports such as swimming and water aerobics are also suitable and enjoyable.

Getting out in the countryside to go some activities in the fresh air is also beneficial for pregnancy, so if you fancy some adventure, go for a short hike or enjoy some kayaking.

Running during pregnancy tends to lead to leaner babies and shorter labour. Although jogging is fine for part of your pregnancy, your health care provider will probably advise you to stop jogging if you are experiencing any pregnancy complications.

If there is anything you’re unsure about, check with your health care provider for specific recommendations.

Keeping to an exercise regime and maintaining a healthy pregnancy will make it easier to control weight gain, so that reaching your ideal figure after giving birth is not as tough as you might think.

What are your favourite pregnancy exercises?

August 4, 2013