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Prenatal workouts 101


pregnancy Photo: Pixabay

Recently, a client who was excited about working out in pregnancy told me that she didn’t really find any doctors (in Nigeria) that would actively encourage you to work out while pregnant. Also information can be sparse for some women hoping to venture into the dreaded but highly beneficial world of prenatal exercising. As much as I can, I would try to cover the basics of what you need to know if you would like to safely workout in pregnancy Working out in pregnancy is safe for most women.

Although, some women must avoid any form of workouts or strenuous exercises when pregnant if they already have complications, or have suffered previous inexplicable or recurrent miscarriages. In such cases, a doctor would usually excuse them from working out as it is harmful. However, the majority of women may just be too scared or uninformed due to grapevine and old wives tales about prenatal exercising and completely avoid it. If you fall in the second category, I would recommend that you check with your doctor and if he certifies you fit to work out, then workout.

How many times in a week, and for how long? Thirty minutes to forty-five minutes provides great benefit to a pregnant body, and you should aim to work out four to five times a day.

For women who have been exercising previously, and at a level of intensity which is more than average, they may be able to sustain an hour long exercises up to six times a day.

However, the general precaution remains to listen to your body; don’t over exert yourself to the point where you can no longer have coherent conversations. Take water (pee and selfie) breaks in between and stop when your body tells you to. The goal is a fit string body, not weight loss, so you don’t need to go extra.

What kind of exercises should you do?
There are a wide range of safe prenatal exercises available online especially on YouTube based on each trimester. Ensure that you go at a pace and intensity that is comfortable for you and not what the trainer instructs, who is most likely in better shape than the viewers. Use the pause button a lot and catch your breath.

Swimming has proven to be one of the most rewarding exercises, especially as the bump and weight increases. You not only get a great workout of all parts of the body, you also become lighter in water and so temporarily feel like you reverted to your pre-pregnant self. Finally, walking remains the safest workout a pregnant woman can engage in. Aim for at least thirty minutes of brisk walk, and if you are up to it, hold and swing two light weight dumb bells in both hands. They are going to be doing a lot of lifting when the baby is here so you are being proactive by strengthening it in advance.

What if I couldn’t work out in the first trimester or even first half of my pregnancy? Would I still enjoy the benefits if I start later?
Yes! Even if you begin in the third trimester and aim for three to five workout sessions lasting thirty to fourty-five minute, you will enjoy the immense benefits that come from working out in pregnancy if you stay consistent. You will immediately realise that you are stronger and even have better moods as a result of the endorphins released when we work out.

Do I need extra supplements as a result of the extra energy my workouts are burning off?
If a woman exercises regularly in pregnancy, she may need to increase calcium in her diet first and may also need a supplement. Milk, eggs, yoghurt are some of the richest sources of calcium in your diet, and your dark green leafy vegetables also help. If you have the need for a supplement, your doctor will recommend type and dosage. Do not self-medicate. Also, note that calcium needs vitamin D to be absorbed in the body, so you need to ensure enough doses of vitamin D. You don’t need a supplement for this though; even fifteen minutes in the sun will provide enough vitamin D for calcium to be absorbed
Finally, a safe prenatal workout routine combined with a healthy prenatal diet would ensure you enjoy your pregnancy while gaining the recommended amount of weight slowly over time. Therefore, don’t be afraid to incorporate exercise to your daily tasks.

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