One of the most common concerns for newly pregnant moms-to-be is always the question of exercise and pregnancy and whether it is safe. Years ago, it was strictly advised that pregnant women should avoid any strenuous activity and rest as much as possible. As a result, many pregnant women piled on the pounds during their pregnancies and then struggled to lose the excess weight afterwards.
Fortunately, with the advance in science and research into this area, we now know that not only is it safe to exercise during pregnancy, but that it is actually beneficial to both mother and baby. Just some of those benefits include a better immune system, relief from morning sickness, reduced postural pain or injury, and increased energy levels and feelings of positivity for both you and baby.
Even so, when you first find out you are pregnant, your natural instinct is to reduce your activity to protect your baby. Actually, this instinct is not wrong—you definitely don’t want to be risking your baby by playing a rousing game of squash or rollerblading down some steep hills—but to stop all activity is crazy.
For one you need to be strengthening your body to support your pregnancy. As your body changes it will put some serious strain on areas like your back, shoulders, and neck and if your muscles aren’t strong enough to cope with these postural changes, you could be in for severe long-term damage.
You can’t build strength overnight, so you need to be starting as soon as possible to support your frame.
You should also consider the amount of fat you are carrying on your body. Roughly 30 percent of estrogen comes from fat so if you are carrying too much (or too little) fat, then your hormones will be out of balance, which may also have serious indications for the health of your pregnancy and your baby.
So what should you be doing to ensure you stay fit during your pregnancy whilst making sure your baby is safe and healthy?
The key is to focus on short workouts (fifteen minutes is fine), comprising total body exercises that target key areas like your bottom, core and mid-back. Things like squats, rows, pelvic floors, and transverse abdominal work are ideal for you right now.
You should also be focusing on short bouts of cardio rather than long steady sessions on the treadmill or cross-trainer. Not only is short burst training more effective at conditioning your body, it is also much more suitable for early pregnancy as you won’t find it as draining on your essential resources.
So, is it safe to exercise in early pregnancy?
Yes, as long as you exercise smarter, not harder. As with anything, there are always risks. If you are newly pregnant, I would strongly recommend you contact a prenatal fitness specialist who can advise you on your personal circumstance and help you with a pregnancy fitness plan to suit your personal needs.