Keep on moving: Pregnancy exercise

By making the decision to exercise, you can take back some control

Staying active is the key to a healthy and enjoyable pregnancy, says Charlie Launder of Lomax, London

It’s a time that many women wait their whole lives for, and for some it comes as a complete surprise. Either way, it is important to look after yourself during your pregnancy to ensure that both you and baby have a healthy nine months. A growing bump, while exciting and new, also brings your body a variety of challenges, which can be overcome by keeping strong and active. It is becoming more and more common to see women in the gym working out through their pregnancy. Not only does exercise help prepare your body for birth, it can also have many psychological benefits that will help you enjoy your pregnancy from start to finish.

LETS GET PHYSICAL

It is no secret that your body goes through a lot of changes during pregnancy. Some women sail through their nine months, while others suffer with all sorts of unwanted aches and pains. A protein hormone called relaxin is released into the body during pregnancy, and is often the root cause of these aches and pains. Relaxin softens your ligaments – the tough tissue that connects your joints. While we need this to happen to help the body accommodate the physical changes to come, it can sometimes cause problems when your joints are less stable.

Adding resistance training into your workouts will help you to build strength around these joints, helping to keep them where they should be and minimise any discomfort. You can keep active at your own pace, whether that is doing yoga and Pilates, or building up more of a sweat by adding some weights into your training.

The very nature of pregnancy will see you gain weight as your baby grows. The change in your centre of gravity can cause your posture to change, which in turn can result in lower back pain. With your weight shifting forwards, and your abdominals stretching and weakening, your back is under a lot of pressure. Strengthening the upper part, the thoracic, will encourage extra muscles to switch on during movements in and out of the gym, giving your lower back a helping hand.

It’s worth remembering that each pregnancy is different, so try not to judge yourself on what others are doing. Listen to your body, find out what works for you, and enjoy exercising throughout your pregnancy.

BEAT THE BLUES

Morning sickness, weight gain and sleepless nights are just some of the things that can make pregnancy a pretty lonely and stressful time – it can feel as if you have no control over these physiological changes. By making the decision to exercise through these nine months, you take back some of the control, and can work with your trainer to ease any unwanted symptoms you may be having.

It’s well known that exercise releases endorphins. These hormones are released in response to brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. The receptors that these endorphins bind to are the same ones that painkillers bind to in order to make you feel good. This is no different during pregnancy. If simply getting out of the house doesn’t lift your mood, these endorphins certainly will.

Leaving the science behind, there is a social aspect to all this that can be a massive help during pregnancy. Signing up with a personal trainer or joining a prenatal fitness class will introduce you to a whole new group of people all going through the same thing as you, who you can cry, laugh and exercise with throughout your pregnancy.

WHY NOT TRY THESE?

1st Trimester

• There’s no need to make any drastic changes in terms of exercise. If you feel comfortable doing it, carry on doing it. Just make sure you warm up steadily and don’t overheat.

• Add twisting exercises to your regime to keep the core engaged. Seated medicine ball twists, cable twists and woodchops are all good ways to work the core without traditional crunches.

• Swimming can be a great form of cardio
and also help to combat morning sickness.

2nd Trimester

• Work on compound movements such as squats, deadlifts and lunges to get the whole body working together.

• Remember to focus on your posture as
your bump starts to grow.

• Pilates is another great way of keeping the core and pelvic floor engaged during this trimester, just watch that you don’t overstretch and injure yourself with the increase of relaxin in the body.

3rd Trimester

• Add pulling exercises into your workout to strengthen your upper back and minimise lower back pain. TRX or cable rows are great exercises to isolate this part of the body.

• To combat water retention in the legs and ankles, which can happen towards the end of your pregnancy, do short cardio intervals using a bike or cross trainer.

• Swimming allows you to feel weightless in the water, so is great to give your joints a break while keeping your cardio up. If you are feeling any pain or discomfort in your pelvic area, avoid breaststroke.

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