With increased blood pressure, swollen ankles and sometimes the sweats, is there any wonder why increasing numbers of women are buying their own fitness equipment and setting up a home gym to enable them to keep working out close to when they are due.
So is working out a good idea during your pregnancy?
Research is increasingly showing that exercise during pregnancy can have a number of benefits for the mother including :
- An improvement in digestion, including less likelihood of constipation
- Greater energy levels, so you are able to do more
- Increased mobility, particularly during last trimester as you become heavier
- Lower levels of stress, anxiety and depression – the positive endorphins released during exercise will help you feel better
- Less weight gain – the less fat you gain during pregnancy, the healthier the baby and the sooner you will get back in shape
- Lower incidence of varicose veins and leg cramps
- Easier labour – the increased strength and stamina make labour easier
- Reduction in frequency and severity of back pain.
- Quicker post-natal recovery.
What About the Baby?
In addition to the benefits for the mother, researchers have recently shown that working out when pregnant can also improve the health and fitness of your baby.
You may wonder whether it is important for your newborn baby to be fit, but according to researchers, it may in fact have profound implications – they found that women who exercise regularly when pregnant can reduce the chances of their kids becoming obese in later life.
The research, conducted in New Zealand, found that babies born to mothers who exercised were, on average, 143 grams lighter than those born to inactive mums. Although they were lighter, they were on average the same length, and showed no signs of inadequate lacked nutrition.
This is significant because increased birth weight is associated with an increased risk of obesity for the children, so reducing birth weight can have potentially important long term health benefits for children.
Tips For Exercising
If you intend to exercise while pregnant, be sure to check with your doctor and then follow these guidelines alongside what your Doctor advises:
- Always do a 10 to 15 minute warm-up – this can help to prevent injuries and avoid adverse affects on the foetal heart rate
- Keep your workouts under one hour, with plenty of rest and fluid breaks
- Always do a 10 to 15 minute cool-down
- Regular exercise (three times a week) is preferable to intermittent exercise
- Be sure that you have adequate breast support – a sports bra is recommended
- Steady aerobic exercise is good. Examples include walking, swimming, stationary cycling or low impact aerobics
- Monitor your heart rate/exertion level – it is usually recommended that pregnant women keep their heart rate below 140 beats per minute, although this varies with age.
- Be sure to stay adequately hydrated and avoid excessive heat – dehydration and hyperthermia are two of the biggest dangers for the foetus.
- Avoid exercises that are performed on the back, and those that involve fast movements or the risk of falls.
Home Gym Equipment Options
Upright or Recumbent Bike