How much should I be exercising during pregnancy?
While exercise may be the last thing on your mind during pregnancy, light movement and activity that is easy on the muscles is often advised to help with muscular aches, mental wellness and post-partum recovery. Alex Cox, master instructor at FlyWheel Dubai, shares his recommendations for finding the right balance in staying active during each trimester.
“First thing to say is do it. Exercise. Intensity levels will vary and so will exercise type, but finding the right thing with the appropriate intensity level need not be a chore. When people say they can’t run I tell them to ride. When people say they can’t ride I tell them to swim. When people say they can’t swim, I teach them to.
I would suggest that the more you do the better you’d feel. Some of the most impressive women I know have exercised throughout the entirety of their pregnancies and have beautiful families and fit bodies to show for it. My dear friend’s wife, Hayley (mother of 3) ran throughout all three pregnancies and is absolutely stunning, but to be honest, she’s the exception that proves the rule. She was a long-distance runner before and, although she had to modify her training a bit, maintained her running throughout. High intensity, but low impact is a far easier model.
Indoor or outdoor cycling is what I recommend to most women, particularly during the first two trimesters of pregnancy, because it allows the desired intensity level with minimal impact. By this same token, I recommend swimming throughout. No impact, great cardio.
This brings me to my main and most serious point. It’s ultimately about protecting your heart. Whenever I’m working with older clients or anyone returning from injury, I always give them the heart rate guide. The basic math is 220 minus your age. I always take off an extra 20 when working pre-natal, so for a 30-year-old mother-to-be I would recommend a maximum heart rate of 170bpm.
In terms of what to and how much it is a personal thing, as is everything in fitness. I always recommend steering clear of sports and exercise where there is an above average risk of falling (such as riding or skiing) but to keep doing what you love. Taking into account the points above, you should be able to maintain what you were doing before, even if only at a slightly reduce rate. Try to set yourself up with a healthy routine during the first trimester and listen to your body throughout. Be wary of your ability to balance and how that could affect your ability to do sports. Most of all embrace it. It’s a positive journey, so let it be a positive for your health too!”
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