PHYSICAL exercise is a pre-requisite for healthy living; it does not matter who you are, you have to exercise if you want to stay physically fit. How you do it however, is what makes the difference. Pregnant mothers are known to exert a lot of influence on their unborn child and one of the ways to protect the child while looking after their own health and fitness is to exercise in Pregnancy.
Moderate exercise during pregnancy can be healthy for both mother and child, giving the child a fresh start on life while also reducing the risk of obesity for both mother and child. While exercises at any time will definitely boost the immune system, heart health and stamina, decrease fatigue and constipation, boost mood and energy levels, enhance sleep, and improve muscle strength. It plays particularly critical roles in pregnancy according to Abiodun Anjorin, a physiotherapist who operates privately in Lagos.
There is an abundance of low-risk exercises that pregnant women can engage in. these exercises will bring no harm to their growing baby and will only cause minimal muscle pains to the mother. In time past, pregnant women have been cautioned against strenuous activities particularly as their delivery period gets closer. This is why it is important for pregnant women to know the exercises they can engage in and also when to stop exercises.
Here are a few exercises that pregnant women can engage in:
As long as there is freedom of movement, any one can walk freely around and this is what makes this particular exercise ideal for pregnant women. Needing no special skills, attire or equipment, it can be done anywhere and for free. If you don’t work out prior to your pregnancy, it is a good way to ease into the exercising culture. Taking a quick walk around the neighbourhood can help the cardiovascular system, strengthen the knees and ankles and allow the flow of blood.
This exercise is safe in every trimester, except that by the last trimester, the centre of gravity would be greatly increased and there may be need for support in terms of balance and coordination. Wearing supportive footwear and choosing plain areas devoid of potholes will help to increase the sense of balance.
Swimming and water-walking
If brisk walking is great, then swimming and water walking are fantastic. Swimming and other water exercise allows you the luxury of a better range of motion than you can get while on land. You can also exercise without feeling the direct impact on your joints while the water offers you the buoyancy to support the protruding belly.
Like brisk walking, you can enjoy swimming all through pregnancy. You need to be an avid swimmer ahead of time though. It is best that you avoid hot pools or saunas to minimize risks of overheating. When swimming, choose a stroke style you are comfortable with, do not jump or dive into the pool as these movements can impact the stomach.
If you love to cycle before getting pregnant, there is no reason to stop. Only that you have to modify the way you cycle. Stationary cycling, known as spinning is perfectly safe, even for new comers to exercising in pregnancy. Stationary cycling can help to raise the heart rate without putting too much stress on the joints. The bike also supports the body weight and since it is stationary, the risk of falling is cancelled out.
As time goes on, the handle bar of the stationary bike will need to be raised in order to allow for the protruding stomach. For those new to exercising in pregnancy, this exercise should be stopped by the end of the second trimester.
Squatting and pelvic tilts
While not limited to the two, there are exercises specifically recommended to prepare pregnant women for delivery. Squatting can help to open up the pelvis, it is therefore advisable to do the exercise during pregnancy. In a few easy steps, you can do squats and do as many reps per time;
Stand with the feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart, and the back straight.
Lower yourself slowly, keeping your feet flat and your knees no further forward than your feet.
Hold for 10 to 30 seconds, then slowly push up.
For pelvic tilts;
Go down on the hands and knees.
Tilt the hips forward and pull the abdomen in, arching the back.
Hold for a few seconds.
Release, and let the back drop.
Pelvic tilts strengthen the abdominal muscles and reduces back pain. These two exercises are strongly recommended, especially in the third trimester of pregnancy.
With the many benefits attached to exercising in pregnancy, you should definitely try it out. It is also necessary that you talk to your doctor and follow strictly the medical advices given.