A couple years ago, I overheard one of our gym regulars excitingly announcing her new pregnancy. That was the last time I’ve seen her in the gym…
Far too often, a positive pregnancy test brings an end to one’s exercise routine. As if it’s not important any more. In my uneducated opinion, in pregnancy, exercise is more important that ever. Not only you are accountable for your own health and body, but you also have a full responsibility for well-being of your little one. I strongly believe that keeping fit is absolutely crucial. So here are my top points why I think you should carry on exercising:
(I am no healthcare professional so my opinions are based on research, personal experience and common sense.)
- First of all, exercising keeps you sane. It is widely known that physical activity reduces stress, and trust me, over the nine months you’ll experience a plenty of it.
- It raises your confidence. When I squat a weight equal to my peers while my belly is sticking out I sure as hell feel good about myself!
- Besides, exercise burns calories and speeds up your metabolism which will come in handy because, let’s admit it, you have one cookie too many on….uhmmmm….a daily basis.
- It’s fun! When you have fun, your baby has fun.
- It’s sociable. Pregnancy related tiredness often forces you to stay in, rest and socialise less. Popping to the gym with your friend or going for a jog with your running club is a great way of getting some human contact while doing something beneficial for your body.
- It energizes you. So many times I crawled home from work exhausted and had to use all my willpower to force myself to the gym. After finishing my spin class I was skipping home happy and full of energy like a spring baby lamb.
- Finally, my favourite reason to exercise is that it makes your baby smarter. No kidding! Numerous studies have been conducted and their conclusions suggest that exercising in pregnancy increases your baby’s brain activity. So get moving and grow yourself a little Einstein 🙂 (Check some articles here and here.)
Now what kind of exercise should you do you ask? My midwife’s advice is to carry on with what you’re used to. Unless of course you are a cage fighter or a ski jumper… Just use common sense. Anything that poses an increased risk of falling off something or getting punched in your belly is obviously a no no. On the other hand, don’t be overly precious. The chances of you sustaining an injury when pedaling on a spin bike are much lower than chances of being run over when walking to McDonalds. I remember how I laughed when a friend whispered to me during a yoga class: “Are you sure it’s safe for you to do this?” I was still in my first trimester so there was no belly preventing me from doing my favourite yoga poses. Please don’t be too worried about what you are allowed and not allowed to do when pregnant, otherwise you’ll make your life a living hell which will have a far worse effect on your baby’s well-being than holding a downward dog pose for a little too long…
Before I was becoming a mummy I was a gym freak who always pushed herself hard. Since then I eased off on intensity but not on dedication. The rule of thumb is to listen to my body. If something doesn’t feel right I don’t do it. If I need a break I take it. I aim for 4 to 5 days of exercise a week. This usually consists of one or two spin classes, one weights session or a body pump class, a swim and my local Saturday parkrun (yeah, that’s me on the photos – doing some resistance training and finishing 5K). Overall, this blend keeps me in a good shape and a good spirit, and I sure as hell am not overdoing it. I eliminated heavy weight lifting (now I opt for more reps and lower weight) and long runs (over 10K) with my running club.
If you did zero exercise before, it may seem like a hardcore routine that would be the death of you. I understand. But it’s not all lost. You can take on walking, swimming or some other gentle activities. At the end of the day, using the stairs instead of the lift, or walking not driving to your local Starbucks is a great start. Baby steps 😉
Although I appreciate that a growing belly and brewing hormones are the perfect excuse to sit on the sofa, binge watch Love Island, binge eat Ben and Jerry’s and binge nap in between, please do get up and make an effort. If not for yourself, then for your baby. They rely on you!