How to exercise in early pregnancy
Finding out that your expecting is one of the most exciting and life-changing moments you will ever experience, and it’s fair to say that life will never be the same again, in the best possible way of course! So, when you find out the wonderful news, there are many things that you have to be aware of – what you’re eating, drinking, health and exercise. But it’s fair to say that many women have often been scrutinised for exercising whilst pregnant, so we wanted to understand the truth, and have looked into this for our latest blog post.
Celebrities have often been at the forefront of the scrutiny by press and members of the public because of their decision to continue exercising whilst pregnant, often making statements to say that will continue to do what their body allows them to for as long as they possibly can. In 2017, Serena Williams hit the headlines suggesting that her pregnancy wasn’t going to stop her from exercising for as long as possible, which was met with a lot of controversy, particularly as she is such an influential figure in sports. With many of today’s celebrities sharing their lives across social media with a huge array of followers, they are too, very often, met with criticism for continuing to partake in their favourite sports when they’re expecting.
But, is it bad to workout whilst pregnant? Well, according to the NHS, they actually recommend staying active throughout pregnancy, as this can allow women to deal better with the strains of labour, and even help aid the recovery process after birth. And contrary to popular belief, regular and less intensive exercise is not dangerous for a baby at all, with the NHS also recommending keeping up your normal daily exercises or favourite activities, including running, yoga, dancing and walking, until you begin to feel uncomfortable or not capable of continuing. As always, it’s purely a case of listening to your body and making sure to not push yourself or try and reach your personal bests – this is a time to focus on looking after you and your baby, not to beat your exercise targets. An easy way of making sure you’re not making your workout too strenuous is by checking to see if you can easily hold a conversation without getting becoming breathless as you work out, as this can mean you’re pushing your body too hard, and could send your heart rate up.
If you’re particularly new or revisiting regular exercise, professionals would recommend working with a personal trainer, or joining a specialised class, as this can mean you’re not at risk of over-working yourself. Why not take a look into your local gym or leisure centre classes to see if there’s something that works for you – a range of sessions including body pump and yoga have been designed with pregnant women in mind, so this could be a great place to start!
If you’re on the other side of the spectrum, and are used to working out intensively, be sure to not put too much pressure on yourself to reach your goals or feel like you’re not being as productive as usual. As we always say, being pregnant means listening to your body, so don’t push yourself, even if you’re used to highly intensive exercise normally!
Another key reason to keep up a less strenuous workout routine is to make sure that your mental health is in check. As discussed in a previous blog post, we discussed the benefits that regular exercise, even very minimal and less intensive activities, can have a great improvement on mental health and wellbeing, and with pregnancy interfering with your hormones and changing your life in such a big way, thousands of women become susceptible to an array of mental health issues including post-natal depression and OCD. In fact, according to mental health charity, Mind, ‘around one in five women will experience a mental health problem during pregnancy or in the year after giving birth’, so it’s becoming increasingly important to make sure that you keep exercising going whilst in the early stages of your pregnancy.
We recommend speaking with your GP before you partake in any form of exercise during pregnancy, just to check this is suitable for you and your baby, making sure that you have a healthy pregnancy with little or no risk. Remember that even brisk walking and low intensity physical activity is just as beneficial - you don’t need to continue to go to the gym if it’s not for you! Listen to your body, come up with an exercise routine that suits you, and make sure you always do what’s best for you and your baby. Remember to check out the variety of articles and advice on the NHS website if you’re struggling to know how to work-out best for you – click here for more information.