Some people do exercise as they simply enjoy doing it, but many people do it to lose weight, tone up, train for an event etc. During pregnancy these ‘goals’ shouldn’t be what you’re thinking about. This isn’t a time to stop exercising and sit on the sofa, but it’s also not the time to challenge yourself. Doing exercise in pregnancy is all about maintenance - keeping you and baby healthy, preparing the body for the next few months (and the physical nature of the labour!), as well as keeping the excess weight gain to a minimum. But what should we be doing? This simple chart shows just that:
Frequency: Up to 4 days a week
Intensity: Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) 4-6 - should be moderately challenging but you should be able to hold a conversation.
Time: 15-30 minutes cardio, not inc warm-up and cool-down
Type: Stick to activities you’ve done before. Now isn’t the time to learn a new sport. Swimming, speed walking, aerobics class, jogging.
Frequency: 2-3 days a week
Intensity: Feel like you’re challenging your muscles, by using bodyweight, dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells etc, but now is not a time to go for a personal weightlifting best
Time: 1-3 sets of around 10 exercises, 10-15 reps in a set
Type: focus on areas that need strengthening for pregnancy, labour and parenthood ie. upper back, arms, thighs
Frequency: Most days of the week
Intensity: Perform each stretch with slow, steady movement without bouncing or locking your joints, which can cause injury.
Time: 10-15 minutes total. Best to not hold stretches for more than about 10 secs at a time, but you can do each stretch a few times to get the benefit.
Type: Stretching and yoga moves. Stretch warm muscles only and be gentle - you have a lot of relaxin hormone in your system which will make you think you can go further than normal - try not to overextend.
If you’re doing workouts at home, it can be quite difficult to know what moves and should and shouldn’t do, so my advice is to exercise some caution when choosing. I am of course available for help/advice and can do personal training sessions that cover everything you need.
If attending classes, do check that your instructor has a prenatal qualification (I do). If they don’t then their insurance does not cover them if anything were to happen to you. They are also unlikely to know what is best for the prenatal body. Don’t forget to check out my BumpFit course if you’re in the Enfield area.