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Pregnancy can be a challenging time to stay healthy and there are many variables that may affect your fitness routine. It is especially difficult to exercise while pregnant as your moods and general health may be affected by fluctuating hormone levels.
There is growing evidence to suggest that physical exercise during pregnancy has numerous benefits and these can include improved posture, decreased backaches and fatigue. Your doctor may also suggest taking a little more exercise if you are experiencing any health issues that are common during pregnancy, such as high blood pressure or haemorrhoids. But before you start exercising, it's important to understand your limitations, which physical movements are beneficial and what exercises to avoid during pregnancy.
Walking is a fantastic cardiovascular exercise for pregnant women, for several reasons. It's gentle and not too harsh on the knees and ankles. It can be done anywhere and at any time during pregnancy – all that's required is a good pair of walking shoes.
Yoga involves gentle stretching exercises, and done regularly enough it can keep you flexible while improving your muscle tone. Yoga is excellent for pregnant women as it has a low impact on the joints and, when combined with swimming or walking a few times a week, it can give your body a thorough workout.
Weight training is an important part of your exercise routine as it can tone and strengthen your muscles when practiced regularly in conjunction with cardiovascular exercise. During pregnancy you may need to reduce the amount of weights you are lifting and it's recommended that you take the necessary precautions and use good technique and form, i.e. slow and controlled movements throughout.
It's recommended that you avoid any physical activities that involve extensive jumping, hopping, bouncing or skipping. Any activity that can result in jarring motions, rapid changes in direction or holding your breath are also to be avoided.
If you're at all uncertain about which exercises to partake in during pregnancy, it's wise to consult your healthcare provider first.
Before engaging in any form of physical exercise it's important to remember to drink plenty of water, ease into the exercises gently and to stop immediately if you feel overheated or are overcome with sickness or dizziness at all.
If you were already exercising regularly pre-pregnancy, your body will be better able to cope with an exercise routine but you should still exert caution. Once the baby is born, returning to your pre-pregnancy fitness routine should be gradual and needs to be done over a period of weeks and months. Overall, your body should spring back more quickly if you looked after your fitness prior to pregnancy.
If you were overweight before getting pregnant, however, then it may take much longer, up to a year or more to get the weight off. Plus any baby weight that you don't lose could be with you for a long time.
Partaking in some gentle physical exercises during pregnancy can support future weight loss, protect against stress or depression while helping to keep your bones and muscles strong. Following a pregnancy it is recommended to ease yourself into any new physical exercise routine for your health, safety and wellbeing.