An easy introduction to exercise during pregnancy
I need to get off my butt and do some exercise – as I am not sure running around after a three year old really counts! And I am sure I am not alone. As I’m not qualified to tell you about fitness so I have asked the ladies at FittaMamma to guest post here, and this is what they have to say:
Leading pregnancy activewear specialists FittaMamma are committed to encouraging women that exercise during pregnancy is not only safe but beneficial. Being active during pregnancy helps both physically and psychologically. If you’re suffering from pregnancy niggles such as tiredness, varicose veins, lower back pain, heartburn or swollen ankles you’ll be surprised what a difference it makes to get up off the couch and get moving!
Even a modest amount of exercise during pregnancy will release those feel good endorphins, lift your mood and make it easier to sleep, reducing stress, anxiety and depression. Experts recommend at least 2.5 hours a week but you can start gently and build up.
Giving birth is a very physical process and let’s face it, no-one would go in for a marathon without any training – increasing your fitness levels can make all the difference when it comes to labour and it will help with your recovery period afterwards as well.
If you’re feeling the weight of your bump, FittaMamma offer a range of fitness and leisurewear that works like a sports bra for your tummy – taking some of the strain onto your back and shoulders where you are naturally stronger. Ditch the baggy track suit bottoms and over-sized T-shirt in favour of something a bit more supportive and flattering – exercise is much easier when you feel comfortable and supported. And if you don’t really know where to begin check out FittaMamma fitness expert Lucie Brand’s Mini workout – they’re specifically designed for pregnant women and you can do them in the comfort of your own front room.
These easy warm up exercises are great before you start any cardio activity and work equally well to cool down afterwards:
Legs and ankles: Stand on leg, raise your other foot off the floor and rotate your ankle. Raise your knee higher flexing back and forwards. Repeat with the other leg
Hip and body: With your feet hip distance apart and hands on hips, rotate in both directions. Put your hands on your head and gently swing your body from side to side.
Warm up your arms: Spread your arms wide, flex your wrists before circling backwards and forwards, crossing your arms in front of your body. Shrug your shoulders to loosen, reach up to the sky with each hand in turn stretching over to the side.
Increase the pace:
Get stepping from side to side, adding in a knee lift or curl with the opposite leg. March on the spot, lifting your knees and swinging your arms.
Lunge to each side, pushing alternate arms across your body.
Half jacks, with your arms coming in and out as you step each leg in turn.
Tap your heels forward alternately, bending the other knee and swinging your arms forward.
Jog on the spot, bringing your knees up – alternate with jogging with your heels to bottom
For full workout routines click on www.fittamamma.com – there’s loads of useful info about exercising in pregnancy as well as recipes and nutrition advice.
If you’re still anxious about exercising, follow these safety guidelines:
- Don’t overdo it. Start with maybe 15-20 minutes 5 days a week and build up as you feel fitter.
- Keep your pregnancy exercise levels moderate and aim to maintain your fitness rather than strive for a big improvement
- Be sure to warm up and cool down afterwards.
- Stay fuelled. Don’t exercise on an empty stomach.
- Drink plenty of fluid. Small sips of water are best.
- Keep cool. Pregnant women can overheat quite easily so exercise outdoors wherever possible. Moisture-wicking clothes will keep you cooler.
- Carry on talking! If you’re exercising so hard that you can’t continue a conversation then it’s time to slow down
- Avoid exercises that involve you lying on your front after the first trimester and avoid lying on your back after 12 weeks (earlier if you feel dizzy or nauseous)
- Give yourself a day off from cardio-vascular exercise at least once a week.
- Make sure you allow for plenty of loo breaks and include pelvic floor exercises as part of your daily routine.
- Dress comfortably. Avoid clothes that restrict your movement. Ideally choose stretchy clothes that support your bump and breasts.
- Ask a professional – if you have any concerns talk to your doctor or midwife. And make sure you talk to your teacher, trainer or coach to ensure they are aware that you’re pregnant.
And for more information and FAQ’s check out the fittamamma website.