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Tips for Workouts during Pregnancy

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PHOTO: Cairo Gyms

Whether it is with the extended delay of your period or the display of those two red lines on a pregnancy test kit, conception heralds many changes initially within the body then later transits to external changes as the months go by.

While the body is undergoing changes, the woman must also be making her own changes to complement the body’s effort in providing a favourable ‘real estate’ for her new ‘tenant’ to thrive optimally.

Amongst all the changes to be made, the expectant mother must also adjust her workout routines. The first change would be ‘Do not stop exercising’. There is a school of thought especially in this part of the world, that almost forbids a pregnant woman from working out because it is supposedly dangerous to her pregnancy, but that is not always the truth.

Although, some women need to stop exercising if they are having issues with their pregnancy and have been advised by their Doctors to stop, but besides that, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a woman who works out consistently even from her first trimester.

For those who exercise in the gym, the first thing is to stop participating in the aerobics classes. These sessions are usually high intensity (as expected of aerobics which focuses on getting your heart rate to increase to its maximum), high impact with the floor and may alter the woman’s centre of gravity, leading to a fall. These are not the most appropriate form of exercise for a pregnant woman, except of course, it is a prenatal aerobics class.

Skipping is also a wrong form of exercise for a pregnant woman. It is a high intensity and high impact workout both of which are not right. Ditto Jumping jacks and running, whether on a treadmill or on the streets. These are cardio workouts, and one of the major benefits of cardio exercises is that it increases your heart rate and helps you burn calories even faster. In plain terms, your heart rate is directly proportional to how much calories your body is burning, so a higher heart rate means more calories are being burned. While this is great for a non-pregnant woman, the pregnant woman should not be trying to lose weight (except on Doctors orders), and should focus on more low impact cardio vascular exercises.

Examples of safe prenatal cardio are walking both outdoors and, on a treadmill, using the stationary bike not a mobile bicycle as the tendency for a fall is high there and that may trigger a miscarriage, and even dancing at home. There are some prenatal aerobics/cardio workouts available on YouTube which one can also engage in, but be sure to rest when you feel like it, even if you have to go slower than the instructor.

Concerning abdominal workouts, a pregnant woman can continue to work on her abs, since it is expected to grow larger in these 40weeks. But you must modify those abdominal workouts and the key word is position. Any abdominal workout that has you laying belly-up should be stopped especially after 16 weeks. This is because the weight of your uterus can compress a major blood vessel called the vena-cava affecting blood flow to the fetus and leaving you dizzy, light headed and even nauseated after wards, so moves like the scissors, crunches, sit-ups and the likes should be avoided. However, standing abdominal workouts are welcome even in pregnancy. The goal is not to have a flat and toned belly, but to have strong and tight abdominal muscles that yes expand in pregnancy but can contract a lot faster after the baby is delivered. That is what it means to ‘bounce back’, literally. It is the abdominal muscles bouncing back to shape after the initial expansion to house a baby. If you keep those abdominal muscles strong and tight even in pregnancy, then they will bounce back faster.

Examples of safe abdominal exercises are standing elbow-to-knees (same hand to feet and alternate hand to feet), side bends (lock arms behind the ears and bend to both sides as far as you can go), planks (both elbow and palm planks) and squats. Most importantly, do not undergo any prenatal workout routine without your doctor’s consent and approval.


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