Townsville Bulletin - Townsville Eye - - Eye Exercise -

To all you soon-to-be mum­mas out there, this one is for you. For many, the topic of work­ing out dur­ing preg­nancy has a big fat ques­tion mark and you are prob­a­bly won­der­ing what to ex­pect when you’re ex­pect­ing.

The main thing to re­mem­ber is that not all preg­nan­cies are cre­ated equal and what worked for your BFF or Kim Kar­dashian may not work for you.

As you progress through your preg­nancy, your body goes through dras­tic changes, and th­ese changes and ex­pe­ri­ences are unique to each and ev­ery woman.

I of­ten hear in both my lines of work (as a phys­io­ther­a­pist and per­sonal trainer) that my pa­tients or clients are ei­ther stop­ping or dras­ti­cally re­duc­ing their phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity dur­ing preg­nancy.

Un­til I walk in their shoes, I can’t fully un­der­stand the mind­set of a soon-to-be mumma. But for all preg­nant women, their un­born child’s well­be­ing is the num­ber one pri­or­ity, even if it means sac­ri­fic­ing their own men­tal and phys­i­cal well­be­ing. This is un­nego­tiable.

But with this is mind I would re­ally like to talk about how mon­i­tored and in­di­vid­u­alised ex­er­cise pro­grams are ex­tremely ben­e­fi­cial to both mum and baby. All women who are preg­nant and with­out com­pli­ca­tions should be en­cour­aged to par­tic­i­pate in aer­o­bic and strength-con­di­tion­ing ex­er­cises as part of a healthy life­style dur­ing their preg­nancy. This is not to say I am en­cour­ag­ing 100 chest-to-floor burpees or marathon train­ing. In­stead, it’s just an ad­justed ver­sion of what you were do­ing prior.

The ben­e­fits of ex­er­cises are abun­dant and re­main just as im­por­tant dur­ing preg­nancy, both phys­i­cally and men­tally. Ben­e­fits of ex­er­cise dur­ing preg­nancy in­clude: In­creased en­ergy Re­duced back and pelvic pain Re­duced com­pli­ca­tions in­clud­ing preeclamp­sia and preg­nancy-in­duced hy­per­ten­sion Prepa­ra­tion for phys­i­cal de­mands of labour Faster re­cu­per­a­tion af­ter de­liv­ery Pre­ven­tion and man­age­ment of uri­nary in­con­ti­nence Im­proved pos­ture Im­proved cir­cu­la­tion to re­duce swelling Weight con­trol Stress re­lief Re­duced risk of anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion In­creased abil­ity to cope with phys­i­cal de­mands of moth­er­hoods

Be­fore be­gin­ning ex­er­cise dur­ing preg­nancy con­sult with your doc­tor about what ex­er­cise is best for you. Your body un­der­goes in­cred­i­ble changes dur­ing preg­nancy which may af­fect your abil­ity and level of safe ex­er­cise and may re­quire a mod­i­fied pro­gram.

Women pro­duce a hor­mone called ‘re­laxin’ which is unique to preg­nancy. This hor­mone al­lows for move­ment of your pelvis and other joints of the body to ad­just for the growth of your baby. This means that you have slightly more in­sta­bil­ity in your joints than pre-preg­nancy and need to be care­ful with high-im­pact jolt­ing and un­sta­ble ex­er­cises such as some ply­o­met­ric and run­ning train­ing.

In ad­di­tion to this, your rest­ing heartrate dur­ing preg­nancy is al­ready el­e­vated above the pre-preg­nancy norm, so you need to pay more at­ten­tion to tar­get heart rate. Talk to your doc­tor to find out more about safe heart rate tar­gets.

Dur­ing the sec­ond trimester your blood pres­sure drops, so it’s im­por­tant to avoid rapid changes of po­si­tion and ex­er­cises on your back to avoid un­wanted dizzy spells. For ex­am­ple, burpees, plank holds, crunches, jump squats, long-dis­tance run­ning and some sports must be ap­proached with cau­tion.

When be­gin­ning your fit preg­nancy jour­ney, take into ac­count the fol­low­ing tips: Let your body guide you. Our bod­ies talk to us and give us warn­ing signs for when to stop, but also give us pos­i­tive signs for when to keep go­ing. De­spite what Dr Google and your best friend may say, al­ways be guided by your doc­tor, phys­io­ther­a­pist or health­care pro­fes­sional. Not one preg­nancy is the same as an­other and very few preg­nan­cies align with the ‘text­book’ preg­nancy. Do at least 30 min­utes of mod­er­ate in­ten­sity ex­er­cise on most days of the week if you are healthy and not ex­pe­ri­enc­ing any com­pli­ca­tions, and a mod­i­fied low-in­ten­sity pro­gram if you are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing prob­lems. Start from the in­side out by activating your deep core sta­bilis­ers which are oth­er­wise called the ‘pelvic floor’. The proper ac­ti­va­tion of th­ese mus­cles al­lows for a strong foun­da­tion to sup­port you dur­ing and af­ter your preg­nancy. Pre­tend you are bust­ing to get to the bath­room and you have to re­ally con­cen­trate on hold­ing your pee. Voila! There you have it ladies: the pelvic floor do­ing its thang.

The safest ex­er­cises that pro­vide the high­est ben­e­fits dur­ing preg­nancy in­clude walk­ing, swim­ming, cy­cling, jog­ging, pi­lates, mod­i­fied yoga, pelvic floor train­ing, preg­nancy-spe­cific ex­er­cise and Barre classes, and mod­i­fied and guided weights, gym-based and in­ter­val train­ing.

You have your whole life to in­crease the in­ten­sity and push your body to the lim­its, but preg­nancy is not this time. Al­ways avoid push­ing your­self to ex­haus­tion, heavy weightlift­ing, high-tem­per­a­tures and heavy sweat­ing, con­tact sports, high-bal­ance de­mand­ing ex­er­cises, high-al­ti­tude, and push­ing your­self when you are un­well.

Al­ways be sure to be guided by the ad­vice of your doc­tor dur­ing your preg­nancy to find an ex­er­cise pro­gram that is tai­lored to you, and to do what’s best for you and your baby.

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