Nawaz Modi Singhania’s prenatal workout
Fitness expert Nawaz Modi Singhania shares tips on making your prenatal exercise sessions more comfortable and effective, while focusing on safety.
Time and again, we have seen women look just as good, if not better, after childbirth. If you put in the effort, it can be done. By working out diligently and safely, improving eating habits, increasing rest, eliminating bad habits and receiving adequate prenatal care, a pregnant exerciser can become healthier than ever before.
Women are often unaware that pregnancy, labour and delivery are like training for and participating in a major athletic event. All organs and systems are affected. Were you aware that the uterus enlarges 10-15 times within the span of 36 weeks? No other muscle or organ has such a fantastic ability to grow in such a short span of time!
ACHIEVABLE GOALS DURING PREGNANCY
Cardiovascular fitness can be maintained and even improved during pregnancy. Muscular strength can be increased during pregnancy, thereby automatically reducing the risk of injury.
Posture can be substantially improved by developing the musculoskeletal system. Strengthening the abdominals counteracts lordosis, which is a common postural deviation during pregnancy.
Flexibility is an attainable and a desirable goal during pregnancy.
Psychological well-being is enhanced. An improved selfimage and body image are easily met when pregnant women exercise in a supportive environment. It’s important to avoid excessive weight gain, but to learn to cope comfortably with the healthy increase in body weight.
Exercise and the birthing process are believed to be corelated. While there is no scientific evidence available to corroborate the view that exercise will ease labour by making it less painful or shorter, or that the risk of complications will be diminished, exercise contributes towards improved endurance or stamina, which is a great asset during labour.
Lastly, exercise helps you regain your original shape and size much faster post-pregnancy, as compared to if you didn’t exercise at all.
A FEW DOS & DON’TS
These guidelines aim at making your exercise sessions more comfortable and effective, while focusing on safety…
— VISIT YOUR GYNAEC
Always consult with your doctor or gynaec before you embark on an exercise programme.
— WARM-UP & COOL-DOWN, ALWAYS
A minimum of 5-7 minutes for both, a warm-up to start with and a cool-down right before closing the session, are essential. The warm-up will help you stretch out, and get the heart, lungs and muscles ready for exercise. It is also a very important tool in injury prevention. The cool-down helps you stretch and relax the muscles you have worked hard, while eliminating the waste products of exercise from your system. Calf stretches will eliminate nightly cramping in the calves which is rather common in advanced pregnancy. (Demonstrated in Fig 1).
— HEART RATE
Low to moderate intensities of exercise are preferred during pregnancy. Never go high on intensity, as this can lead to serious damage.
— FITNESS TRAINER
Ideally, let a well-trained, qualified fitness instructor tailor an effective, low impact workout for you. He/ she will make various changes and modifications to accommodate the pregnancy and your changing needs.
Finally, remember to do only what you comfortably can. Don’t try and compete with your former nonpregnant self. Do as much or as little as your body comfortably allows.
Posture can be substantially improved by developing the musculoskeletal system.
Here are a few simple exercises you can begin with…
The exercise in Fig 2 strengthens and tones the outer thighs and hips. While lying down on your side as demonstrated, lift the outer leg up as you breathe out, and lower it, without allowing it to touch the lower leg, as you breathe in. Make sure your hips stay properly aligned, one on top of the other at all times. The exercise can be done either by using resistance tubing, or by using strap on weights above the knee caps, or even with no weights or strap-ons at all. Begin by doing 2 sets of 10 repetitions on each leg.
To work the abdominals, sit with your knees apart and bent. Arms extended out parallel to the floor, slowly roll back halfway from sitting up and lying down as shown in Fig 3. Keep the chin close to your chest and your spine rounded. Return to the upright position. Start by doing this 6-8 times, and then gradually build it up to 15. Nothing should be done without the knowledge, consent and written medical clearance of your gynaec. And never do anything without a qualified trainer present at all times.
Healthy mothers produce healthy babies. Enjoy the best of health at this very special time!
Make sure your hips stay properly aligned, one on top of the other at all times.