Fit for Two

Author: Kelly Smith

Although, you’re teeming with excitement about impending motherhood, your head may be reeling with questions, such as, “What happens to my fitness workout?”
Don’t worry; you don’t have to give up the workouts you enjoy or your ‘me’ time. On the contrary, most nutrition and fitness experts, doctors and baby books will tell you exercise will only enhance pregnancy but it does have to be modified somewhat. You may even pick up a few new workout routines such as Yoga or Pilates?

Benefits

Even if you haven’t exercised before pregnancy, now is the time to start because now you must become fit for two! The days of thinking you are the only one who will suffer for skipping your workouts are gone. If this doesn’t convince you, maybe some of the benefits will such as better body awareness, strengthens your muscles and building endurance to prepare you for childbirth and your body gets into shape much faster, not to mention better self esteem and body image.

Things to Remember *As with any exercise program, consult your physician about any exercise programs beforehand.

Fitness Level:Your exercise will vary during each trimester, depending on your fitness level. Some experts suggest some light walking and laying off the rest of your workouts all together, during your first trimester. Gradually build up your workout as your pregnancy progresses. Others suggest, especially if you have been working out regularly before your pregnancy, to keep working out but just lightening the load.

Overheating: Opinions vary but one thing is for sure, the first trimester is a crucial one. You are going through a great deal of hormonal changes and certain studies have shown that overheating within the first 13 to 14 weeks can possibly cause birth defects. So always watch to not get overheated.

Technique: Your body also releases a hormone called relaxin during pregnancy which loosens your joints in preparation for delivery, so be cautious of what exercises your doing and your techniques.

Just Say When: You are no longer aiming for ‘the burn’ when exercising and you’ll find you become out of breath much faster. Know when to stop at the point of fatigue not total exhaustion.

Cardiovascular

Walking is recommended as one of the best cardiovascular exercises for pregnant women. It is flexible because it can be done anywhere anytime. It is safe because it doesn’t put pressure on your knees or ankles like more rigorous activities. You can do it no matter what fitness level you are at and any pace you may feel the need to be at any particular day. You can build on this exercise and walk throughout your entire nine months. Walking is also very social which can be a motivation within itself. Bring a friend or man’s best friend is always up for a jaunt.

Swimming is another safe exercise for pregnant women. It works your muscles while leaving you feeling weightless which is a big bonus.

Low-impact aerobics and Dancing are also recommended to get you going and can be done within the privacy of your home or even with your partner. There is a plethora of great aerobic videos specifically geared toward pregnant women.

It is recommended however to steer clear, as your pregnancy progresses, of activities where you could easily lose your balance such as rollerblading, biking and skiing.

Weight Training

Weight training has become very popular amongst women for all of its benefits. If you are already using weights you just need to lay off the heavy weights and modify your technique, no matter what your fitness level.

2001 Canadian Natural Bodybuilding Fitness Champion, Linda Aubin said she is following this advice in her fourth month of pregnancy. “I am lifting no more than 25 pounds,” says Linda, “I go light and don’t over do it. You could hurt the baby and yourself,” she cautions. She does her bench lifting on an incline level and her leg curls in a standing position instead of lying on her stomach.

It’s a realization with many pregnant women that even though you may not be showing so much in the early stages, there is a great deal happening inside their bodies.

“I find I am out of breath just walking up the stairs,” said Linda. Who is avid about staying healthy and in shape including doing kegel exercises throughout the day and reads as many magazines and books regarding pregnancy and fitness she can get her hands on. She, like many before and after her, recommends the noted pregnancy bible, What to Expect While Expecting by Arlene Eisenberg, Heidi E. Murkoff and Sandee E. Hathaway, B.S.N.

Yoga

There are so many great benefits to yoga, especially during pregnancy. The meditation and centering side of it can really help to calm you during those emotional roller coaster days or stressful days at work. The breathing exercises are known to help connect voluntary and involuntary muscles in the abdomen, which is said to aid during the process of childbirth. You’re also developing body awareness, muscle tone and flexibility. What more could you ask for? The following yoga postures may warm you up to the idea and help you realize it is not meant to twist you into a pretzel and you’re not required to sit on a mountain top. ;-)

Relax:Before moving into these positions you want to relax and just breathe feeling the energy flow throughout your body. You can either sit or lie in a position that is comfortable for you.

Cat:Get down on all fours with hands shoulder width apart. Take a deep breath. As you exhale move you chin down to your chest so that you’re looking towards your abdomen. Your back should form a C while your buttocks are down. Inhaling, your back should move into a concave position into an inverted C. Be sure to move slowly back and forth into these positions at least five times and watch your breathing.

Upturned Beetle*:Lie on your back with your spine extended and chin tucked in. Bend your knees and place one hand on each knee. Feel your spine in contact with the floor. Press your tailbone, waist and neck towards the floor. Rotate your knees in small circles with your hands, softening in the hips and lower back.

Fatigue Relief*:Lie on floor placing your feet flat on the floor, knees bent. Cross your wrist over your chest, placing your hands on the opposite collarbones. Breathe deeply and feel your upper back opening. Spread it into the floor as your breathe out. Release all your tiredness though your back and down into the floor beneath you. After strenuous activity or in times of stress, you can release your tiredness simply by taking your breath out ‘down’ through your back and into the floor beneath you.

*These postures were taken from the YOGA for pregnancyby Francoise Barbira Freedman and Doriel Hall

Stretching

Flexibility is always important no matter what exercises you’re doing. Doing gentle stretches before and after your fitness routines will not only loosen you up but also help your body to avoid strain that could have been avoided.

Kegels

What are Kegels you may ask? They were named after 1950s U of C professor Arnold Kegel who designed a series of exercises to strenghen the *******, urethral and anal muscles by contracting the pelvic floor muscles. According to a January 31, 2003 News Release by The American College of Obstetricans and Gynecologists, doing pelvic-floor exercises reduces likelihood of incontinence during and after pregnancy.

In order to locate these muscles, sit on the toilet and try stopping your urine flow. These are the very muscles you want to be contracting several times during the day. They can be performed lying down, sitting or standing up and held for six to 10 seconds.

There are so many pluses to keeping up with fitness during pregnancy and now you should be motivated to stay fit for two! Changing your routines, utilizing the exercise balls and taking new classes will also help to keep your motivation level up. Keep in mind to eat right and listen to what your body is telling you. Congratulations and stay fit!