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Exercise When You’re Pregnant

Years ago Doctors used to forbid women to exercise during pregnancy. Some Doctors today still preach that message. But the reality is that exercise should be encouraged during pregnancy. Pregnancy is physically demanding! Regular exercise is an essential way of helping your body cope with the increased demands on your joints, muscles, heart, circulation, lungs and mental health. Exercise is totally safe to do, as long as the intensity and type of exercise is modified to suit the specific trimester and how you’re feeling.

Why is exercise so beneficial during pregnancy? Regular exercise can help reduce back pain, leg cramps, and swelling. It can improve or maintain muscle tone, sleeping patterns and pelvic floor strength during, and after pregnancy.

Regular exercise also reduces the chance of diastasis recti (the gap or separation between the abdominals during pregnancy). If you’re unsure about this, ask your Optimum Exercise Physiologist for help, and a more detailed explanation. You can decrease this separation by maintaining correct posture and avoiding sit ups or crunches throughout pregnancy.

Studies show that women who maintain exercise during pregnancy are less likely to experience fatigue, due to improved sleep, reduced anxiety, reduced pain perception and reduced neuromuscular tension (stress making your muscles tense), as well as improved fitness.

What exercises are safe?

If there are no complications with the pregnancy, the following exercises are suitable:
• Walking
• Hydrotherapy exercises at Optimum Studios in Campbelltown or Blacktown
• Cycling
• Swimming
• Resistance/weight training, guided by your Exercise Physiologist

What exercises should be avoided?

• Poor technique during resistance training.
• Bouncing, such as star jumps.
• Excessive twisting activities.
• Asymmetrical weight bearing activities (these are activated by standing on one leg, placing additional strain on your lower back and pelvis).
• Prolonged standing exercises and any exercise that cause shortness of breath.
• Exercise that raises your heart rate to extreme levels. Your optimal heart rate when pregnant is between 60% to 70% of maximum heart rate, or approximately between 120-140 beats per minute.

It is important to remember that the above are guidelines only, and that specific exercise will cater to specific clients. If you have exercised consistently for years prior to pregnancy, you will be able to do more than someone who just started exercise for the first time, or 6 months before pregnancy. Listen to your body. Exercise shouldn’t hurt. If it does, change or modify the exercise.

If you’re not sure of the best approach to exercise, we recommend exercising under the guidance of Optimum’s Exercise Physiologists. Gentle exercise is key. Be careful not to overheat too much with exercise. Your core temperature is the hottest part of you, and it is close to where your baby is growing, so it is likely that your baby feels even hotter. Keep cool when exercising, and be sure to drink small amounts of water frequently.

Remember that during the 9 months of pregnancy, you are not exercising to lose weight. You are exercising to maintain your health and your baby’s health!

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