Exercise: Stay fit this holiday
Summer holidays are always filled with trips away and lots of festive food. Even though your preggie workouts may seem like a distant memory, you can still keep up your fitness levels
BEING TOO SEDENTARY
causes muscle strain and fatigue, while exercise is good for releasing endorphins, promotes your circulation and replenishes energy levels. So commit to keep moving this holiday!
SWIM SWIM SWIM
To beat pregnancy heat exhaustion, nothing’s better than water exercise. Swimming provides aerobic exercise, strengthens and tones the entire body, and can be performed throughout your pregnancy. It is invigorating and relaxing and one of the most adaptable forms of fitness activities. Whether on your own or in a class, at home, on holiday or at your local municipal pool, you will enjoy the advantages of working out in water. Just swimming a few laps in a pool will get your heartbeat going, but for added benefits try these simple exercises:
KICK UP – KICK DOWN
Sitting on a pool noodle or on the steps of the pool, with your hands on the step for support, allow your legs to float towards the surface of the water. Begin kicking, small kicks with feet close together and pressing toes slightly inwards. Do this for one to three minutes. Turn over, and allow legs to float upward. Repeat the movement for one to three minutes. Do not actively point your toes as this could cause you to cramp.
This exercise is excellent for strengthening the abdominal muscles. Lying with your back towards the pool noodle, place your arms along the length of the noodle and grasp it firmly. Straighten your spine and let your legs float upwards to the surface of the water. With your feet together and your knees bent, pull your knees towards your chest as high as you can manage. Breathe out as you do this. Then straighten your legs as you press them forward, breathing in as you do so. Do this ten times.
Another activity that is fun, free and fabulous is walking. No need for any special equipment – all you need are your legs, feet and good walking shoes. So grab a hat and sunscreen and remember not to walk during the peak heat of the day. Walking is the ideal fitness activity as it takes no special skill and can be done with a partner or on your own. It does not stress your body in any way that is unfamiliar. You control just how hard you want to walk. Plus, walking is something that you can safely do right up until the day you deliver. Your walking workout should not be too vigorous. You should be able to speak in complete sentences and not be huffing and puffing and out of breath. Walk comfortably at a pace that you would describe as moderately challenging. It is imperative that you drink adequate amounts of water before, during and after your walk. Drinking water keeps your core temperature stable. As pregnancy progresses your balance becomes affected so walk in an area that is safe and developed. Walk briskly and be aware of your posture. Because of your changing size and shape and the shift in your centre of gravity your body will feel and move differently, changing the way you walk or run. Keep your arms pumping at a 90- degree angle and your elbows bent and close to your body. It may feel difficult at first, but you will have a better workout if you walk as straight as possible, with your chest lifted and expanded and your chin up and pulled back. Keep your shoulders back and your abdominals and buttocks held tight. To prevent joint pain, begin walking in short strides. Long ones can hurt your hips and pelvic area – due to the ligaments becoming more lax under the influence of pregnancy hormones. Don’t walk more than 45 to a maximum of 60 minutes unless you are very fit and an experienced walker.
STRETCH IT OUT
Pack your yoga mat along with your holiday items. Getting away from it all may mean that physically you relax, but mentally it may be harder to unwind than you think. Taking some time out on rising in the morning or settling down at dusk to do a couple of yoga postures and breathing techniques can start up your day or end it off tranquilly. Yoga postures are ideal for alleviating many of the aches and pains created by the postural changes in the pregnant woman. You do not have to be a yoga fundi to do the following exercises:
Kneel, or sit comfortably with ankles crossed. Relax your shoulders and feel your lower body (legs and pelvic area) extending and releasing to the floor. Breathing softly, let your head fall forward. You will feel a strong stretch at the back of your neck. Slowly roll your head to one shoulder, then back and around. Pause wherever you feel tension, or your neck feels tight or tender, releasing the tension with each exhalation. Make sure you keep your jaw, shoulders and knees soft and relaxed. Slowly and gently circle your head eight times, alternating direction.
This relieves leg cramps and strengthens ankles. Sit comfortably, with a straight back and legs outstretched hip-width apart. Rotate each ankle for eight counts in each direction, breathing slowly. Try not to move your whole foot, making sure to flex the ankle bones only.
Do this to enhance circulation to the pelvic region – it relieves piles and varicose veins and increases hip flexibility. Place a cushion under each thigh to support the gradual stretching of your hips and inner thighs. Bring the soles of your feet together and draw them in, letting your knees drop to the ground. Rest your hands on your knees and with several gentle breaths, draw your knees further down with each exhalation. Try not to bounce or push too hard. Place your hands behind you and lean back with your spine straight. With your head comfortably forward, take long deep breaths; this nourishes you and baby, allowing for vital energy flow throughout your body. Caution: Avoid if you have pain in the front of the pelvis. If you have pain in the back of the pelvis, place your feet further out in front of you.
PELVIC FLOOR EXERCISES
These can and should be done anytime, anywhere to strengthen pelvic floor muscles and increase circulation to the entire pelvic region. Choose a comfortable position, either half kneeling or half squatting, or take up a knee- chest position (on your elbows and knees). Take a few relaxing breaths, close your eyes and visualise your pelvic floor muscles. As you exhale, squeeze around your vagina and back passage, lift deep into the pelvis and hold for two seconds. Release slowly, and completely soften around the perineum and sphincter muscle. Repeat 15 times.