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Prenatal Fitness & Its Benefits

“Don’t bend down, have someone else pick it up for you, don’t worry about exercise until after the baby” We have all heard this before but if we let go of our strength for 40 weeks who is going to give us the stamina for labour? Pick up our baby? Play with our toddlers?

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists recommend that during pregnancy, women should perform 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity exercise on most, if not all, days of the week.¹ While the UK Department of Health goes even further and recommends additional muscle strengthening activities twice a week.²




Contrary to previous advice the benefits of exercise during pregnancy are overwhelming not only for the mother-to-be but also for the baby, as long as the pregnancy is considered low risk. These include, but are not limited to, the following³:


Maternal Benefits


• Improved cardiovascular function

• Lower risk of gestational diabetes

• Improved strength and lean muscle mass

• Enhanced sleep

• Reduction in bone density loss

• Decreased resting heart rate

• Weight management

• Improved psychosocial well-being


Foetus & Infant Benefits


• Improved cardiovascular function

• Improved viability of the placenta

• Increased amniotic fluid levels

• Potentially improved neurodevelopment

• Maintain a leaner body mass

• Improved ability to self soothe

• Reduced risk of respiratory distress at birth, if born to high-risk mothers

Keep up your normal daily physical activity or exercise (non-contact sport, running, pilates or dancing) for as long as you feel comfortable. Some exercises will need to be modified from the second trimester onwards to accommodate for the natural physiological and hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy.


If you were not active before you got pregnant, don't suddenly take up strenuous exercise. Start with an aerobic exercise programme (such as swimming, indoor cycling or walking classes) and begin with no more than 15 minutes of continuous exercise, three times a week. Increase this gradually to at least four 30-minute sessions a week. Join a class that is specifically tailored your current Chapter with trainers that understand and have gone through a specialised training.


Remember that exercise doesn't have to be strenuous to be beneficial!


Disclaimer: This post is not intended as medical advice. Strength training is safe for both pre and postnatal, however before you start any exercise programme ask the instructor for their qualifications Furthermore every situation and every pregnancy is different, so please consult your doctor and request their approval.


References


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