Labor of love: what’s the healthiest exercise for the active mom-to-be?
When you find out you’re pregnant, starting a new exercise regime is probably the last thing on your mind. However, exercise has a multitude of wonderful effects: relaxing your body and mind, improving muscle tone, and increasing your strength and endurance – all of which make the pregnancy experience easier to adapt to.
Doctors are now encouraging mothers to stay active as they prepare for labour. Studies have shown that exercise can lower your risk of gestational diabetes and premature birth, and is actually highly beneficial for both mother and baby. Keeping up an exercise regime while pregnant encourages a healthy heart, helps increase energy, and improves sleep (while you can still get it!).
What’s the healthiest form of exercise during pregnancy?
There is no one ‘perfect’ pregnancy exercise – doctors simply advise that women follow a low-intensity exercise regime, meaning your exercise pace should not exceed 140 beats per minute. If you’re engaging in exercises higher than this limit, it is highly recommended that you limit your exercise time to 15 minutes.
The best exercises for you during your pregnancy are brisk walking, swimming, yoga, pilates, indoor stationary biking and low-impact aerobics. These can all be safely performed three or four times a week, continuing on until birth.
Walking gets your heart pumping and can keep you fit without risking injury to your knees and ankles. Simply walking around the park for thirty minutes a day, five times a week can be very beneficial to both you and your baby.
Running is one of the quickest and most efficient ways to get your heart rate up and your blood pumping. However, if you weren’t a runner pre-pregnancy, it’s best not to start now – stick to your tried and tested exercises so you don’t put unnecessary stress on your body.
Swimming is a great all rounder exercise, helping you work your heart and lungs and strengthen your arms and legs. It might be worth checking out some group activities in your area, such as Aquanatal and aqua aerobic classes. Swimming can also be therapeutic, helping to ease many of the symptoms that occur in late pregnancy, such as various aches and pains.
Yoga gently tones your muscles, improves your flexibility and posture and relaxes your body and mind – the ideal pregnancy exercise! Look for pregnancy yoga classes in your area – these will safely guide you through a special routine that’s 100% safe for you and your growing bump. The stretches and breathing routines are also useful for preparing you to breathe through your labour.
Pilates classes focus on gently building strength, muscle toning, body control and flexibility. Most exercises focus on the core muscles in your tummy and pelvic floor muscles. Similar to yoga, you learn breathing techniques and ways to relax while toning up. There are also specialized pregnancy pilates classes, so it’s worth doing some research into where your nearest one is held. Similarly to yoga, pregnancy pilates classes will have an adapted routine with lots of relaxing and baby-safe moves.
Aerobics classes, particularly antenatal aerobics are a great way to get your heart pumping while also exercising safely. Antenatal aerobics are great because they’re designed specifically for pregnant women who want to stay fit – all activity stays low-impact and you can be sure all the movements are totally safe for you and your baby.
If you didn’t exercise regularly before pregnancy, talk to your obstetrician or specialist trainer about possible risks. Let us know which pregnancy exercise you’re excited to try! www.facebook.com/getqardio and @getqardio.
Don’t forget to check your progress with QardioBase, smart wireless scale that has Pregnancy Mode to help you keep track of your weight gain during this happy time.