Keep your bump in shape
How to exercise safely
The days where pregnancy was your golden ticket to sit on the couch and eat ice cream for nine months are long gone. Regular exercise during pregnancy is now highly recommended by medical experts worldwide to keep you and your baby healthy, and to keep those unwanted extra kilos at bay.
Exercise is one of the best ways to control weight gain during pregnancy, confirms Fika Ntshaba, a biokineticist and pregnancy training specialist for Virgin Active in Gauteng. “Keeping fit also makes it easier to return faster to your pre-pregnancy weight, strength and flexibility,” she says.
But it’s not only about how you look – regular exercise can make you feel better on the inside too, she adds. This includes improved digestion, relief from constipation and less pregnancy-related back pain due to maintaining a better posture. Bonus!
“Exercise also gives you that extra boost of energy you need to get through daily life, and it gives you a psychological ‘lift’ that can counteract feelings of stress, anxiety and depression
You can do almost any type of exercise when pregnant, with a few exceptions (see ‘Play it Safe’ on p48). The key is to keep it relaxed and gentle.
“This means you must avoid strenuous and vigorous exercises, as well as high impact and weight bearing exercises. And no heavy weight lifting,” advises Fika.
Also avoid positions where you have to lie flat and those that require long periods of standing still, she adds. Other than these guidelines and a few other things you should bear in mind (see ‘Must Remember’ overleaf), you can start your own exercise programme at home, or hit the pool, gym or exercise bike pronto… but only after you’ve got the all clear from your healthcare provider. “It is definitely essential to get clearance because of the risks and contraindications involved,” advises Fika.
Etti agrees and says exercise is generally either limited or not allowed at all during high risk pregnancies or where there are complications, such as severe anaemia, an incompetent cervix or if