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You can and should exercise while pregnant – here’s how

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By Potso ‘FitnessMpanda‘ Mpandawana, a pre and post-natal exercise instructor and personal trainer

Someone said to me recently, “I don’t think women should exercise while pregnant.”

It’s astounding that in this day and age, when we have access to so much reputable and proven information about training while pregnant that these myths and old wive’s tales persist.

I believe women must make a conscious decision to have a healthy pregnancy. Once you’ve done that, you can start implementing actions and goals to get you there.

Visualise to realise (your goal)

Visualize how you would like your pregnancy to be and, where possible, create a vision board or write it down, at the very least.

Once you’ve done this, gather information on how you can start and identify the guidelines for a safe training regimen during pregnancy.

For many people, when they think exercise they automatically jump to hard, sweaty high-intensity gym workouts. But exercise doesn’t need to be like that to be effective.

There are various exercise modalities that better suit your needs and goals during pregnancy.

Safe and effective exercise guidelines while pregnant

Perhaps you’re looking forward to being pregnant and want to train during this magical period in your life for your benefit and that of baby, or perhaps you’re simply curious.

The golden rule to training throughout your pregnancy is to start before you fall pregnant!

Make exercise part of your everyday lifestyle and not just an activity you do only when you want to lose weight or tone up.

Schedule your workout as part of your daily routine and find something that you enjoy. This will ensure that you stay on course because np-one wants to do something they don’t like, right?

Regular exercise before you conceive can make it easier for your body to adjust to the changes when it happens.

Furthermore, if it’s already a routine, you’ll be more likely to stick with the healthful habit when that bump eventually starts to show.

If you weren’t exercising before your pregnancy then your first step is to consult your doctor to clear you for training. Once this is done, you can consider your options for a safe training plan.

Find your trainer

I would recommend that you investigate hiring a qualified personal trainer to help you or visit your local gym.

Make sure they have a relevant pre- and post-natal exercise qualification and experience working with this special population.

Tell them that you are expecting but would like to start exercising. Another option is to look for mommy and baby classes in your area, which often host sessions for preggy moms-to-be. This will also help you tap into a community of support from which you can source advice, tips and recommendations.

Your trainer will help you target the correct parts of your body and also assess which exercises are suitable for your body type. It is definitely not as simple as applying a one-size-fits-all approach!

Going it alone

If you choose to go start training on your own then I would highly recommend these:

  • Start easy: A 30-minute walk (not jog) is a good place to start.
  • Set realistic goals: The aim isn’t to lose weight but to keep healthy and maintain good weight during your pregnancy.
  • Do research: Find out what type of exercises are good and safe for you and baby. The internet is awash with training advice but be aware of dubious advice from ‘get slim quick’ schemes.
  • Listen to your body: There will be days when you just want to sleep and rest. Please do so – you are not training for a marathon.
  • Be safe: If you go to the gym, use machines that you know how to operate. Don’t start anything new and avoid high-intensity, high impact group classes. Weekly yoga or Pilates classes are ideal.
  • Keep hydrated: This might result in a lot of trips to the loo, but you certainly need sufficient H20.
  • Moderate your efforts: Limit your training to a maximum of 40-60 minutes of moderate exercise. Don’t overexert yourself. Slight discomfort is okay but never pain.
  • Schedule your workouts: Train 3-4 times a week making sure you do both cardiovascular and strength training on specific days.

Author: Pedro van Gaalen

When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.

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