Do you view pregnancy as a good excuse to take things easy? Or has pregnancy motivated you to embrace a healthier lifestyle in readiness for your new baby? Tempting as it might be to simply sit down and put your feet up when you are pregnant (and let’s face it, there will be times when this is what you absolutely need to do), experts, including the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, agree that you should ideally be aiming for at least 30 minutes of exercise, at least five days of the week. ‘Pregnancy is a great time for making healthier lifestyle changes that will benefit both you and your baby,’ say leading maternity fitness experts FittaMamma. ‘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!
Giving birth is a very physical process and increasing your fitness levels can make all the difference when it comes to labour, as well as helping to speed up your recovery period. Exercise will help you maintain a healthy weight gain and most mums who carry on exercising during their pregnancy find it easier to regain their pre-baby strength and shape afterwards.
Around one in three women suffer from pre-natal anxiety and depression – but even a modest amount of exercise during pregnancy will release those feel good endorphins, lift your mood and make it easier to sleep.
Regular exercise is good for your baby too - research has shown that babies born to women who exercise develop more quickly, have improved vascular function and are more likely to exercise themselves later in life. And if you’re feeling positive about yourself, you’ll have more energy for your family and your new baby – it’s win - win all round!
Running, cycling, swimming or a brisk walk for half an hour a day will all help raise your heart beat; pregnancy yoga and Pilates help to improve your balance, posture, strength and flexibility. If you’re used to working out at home or in the gym there’s no reason to give up, just adapt your workout as your pregnancy develops. FittaMamma offers lots of useful, reassuring advice and guidance on different types of exercise during pregnancy in their Expert Centre.
FittaMamma’s 10 top tips for safe exercise in pregnancy:
1. Listen to your body. If your workout feels too intense, slow down or stop.
2. Don’t overdo it- if you haven’t trained before build up slowly, maybe 15-20 minutes a day to begin with.
3. Keep your bump supported. The FittaMamma range of maternity fitnesswear is designed to support your bump, back and breasts for optimum comfort when you exercise.
4. Pregnancy exercise is about maintenance, not improvement. Don’t set yourself targets.
5. Carry on talking! If you’re exercising so hard it’s difficult to hold a conversation, ease up and slow down!
6. Stay cool! Pregnant women can overheat quite easily so exercise outdoors if possible and wear moisture-wicking clothes. Remember to stay hydrated – keep a water bottle handy.
7. Avoid exercises that involve you lying on your front after the first trimester and avoid lying on your back after 12 weeks.
8. Stay fuelled; don’t exercise on an empty stomach and keep a few energy snacks handy- a banana, dried fruit or nuts are ideal.
9. Warming up before you exercise and cooling down afterwards is even more important when you’re pregnant.
10. And finally, if you have any concerns about your health or your pregnancy, ask your doctor or midwife before starting anything new.
For more information about health and well-being in pregnancy, safe pregnancy exercise, videos, workouts, nutritional guidance and recipes and to shop the FittaMamma range of supportive maternity yoga and fitnesswear, visit www.fittamamma.com
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