What exercise is safe during pregnancy?

Low impact exercise is safest

Olivia Petter
Wednesday 09 May 2018 09:49 BST
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


Pregnancy and exercise might not be two words you’re used to seeing in tandem.

The could be because trundling around with a belly the size of a basketball sounds like enough of a workout already, however, while safety is obviously a priority, there are some mild forms of exercise pregnant women can do that will allow them to reap both the physical and psychological benefits.

According to Aya Etherington, personal trainer at Equinox Kensington, the endorphins released during exercise can be hugely beneficial to expectant mothers.

“When anyone exercises the body responds by the release of ‘happy hormones’,” she told The Independent.

“Exercise should always make your mind and your body feel great, this is really important to a new mother.”

Plus, prenatal workout classes can be a great way for soon-to-be mothers to meet one another, she added.

“This creates a community that is really quite loving and one where you leave feeling happy."

Of course, there are risks involved and nobody is suggesting women start training to run the marathon when they're eight months pregnant.

“I would always recommend that people consult their doctor before starting any exercise regime while pregnant,” Etherington said.

It’s also crucial to take into consideration your fitness levels prior to getting pregnant.

“If exercising was not something that was important before, it may feel hard to get started,” she explains.

“On the other end of the spectrum if you are extremely fit and an avid gym-goer, you will have to regress your training."

So, what types of exercise are safe for expectant mothers?

Typically, gentle and low impact forms will be best, such as yoga, Etherington suggests, advising the following three moves, which can help with flexibility and breath control.

1. Cat cow

On your hands and knees, inhale to arch the spine and exhale to push into the hands and dome the upper back. Repeat, tying in the movements with your breath.

2. Spinal lateral flexion

Sitting crossed-legged on a cushion or the floor, inhale to raise the hands up towards the sky, exhale and release the right hand to the floor then lean to the right.

Inhale, raise hands up to the sky, exhale and place your left hand to the floor before leaning to the left. At this point, change the cross of the legs and repeat.

3. Seated forward folds

Sitting crossed-legged on a cushion or the floor, inhale, raise the hands up to the sky, exhale and forward fold over your crossed legs. Stay here for three breaths.

Uncross the legs and change the cross of the legs then repeat.

Ultimately, Etherington stresses it’s important to remember that exercise is not a one-size-fits-all concept: what works for one woman might not work for the next, hence the importance of consulting medical advice before embarking upon any type of regime.

However, if you were a keen runner or gym-goer before, there’s no reason why you won’t be able to jump back into a healthy regime after giving birth if you don’t fancy exercising during your pregnancy.

“Muscle memory and training history is something that the body never forgets,” she adds.

“Being fit before pregnancy will mean the body will remember and to the most part maintain this throughout the nine months.”

Although it will obviously take time to return to your former physique, she adds.

“As with the length of time it took for the body to change to create this new life, it will take this long afterwards to get back to where the mother was physically before the birth.

“It is always easier to have that base level fitness and an enjoyment for exercise as this leads to a healthier and happier life. “

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