Realistic Fitness Resolutions for the New Year

Make positive fitness changes for important benefits in pregnancy and birth

Healthy lifestyle changes are often front and centre on the list of New Year’s resolutions and what better time than pregnancy to make positive changes?

Doctors encourage pregnant moms to get active in preparation for labour. Before starting on any exercise programme, always check with your doctor and make sure that the exercise type you want to do is safe in pregnancy. Some cases where exercise in pregnancy is not advocated include a lung and heart condition (mom), placenta complications, bleeding in pregnancy, current anaemia (iron deficiency) or increased risk for preterm labour.

Pregnancy-Fitness

Why Exercise In Pregnancy?

  • Avoid excess weight gain that can be hard to loose after the birth
  • Improve your flexibility and tone and strengthen muscles in preparation for birth
  • Reduce lower back pain
  • Reduce constipation
  • Have a more restful sleep
  • Relieve stress; improve your mood
  • Decrease in risk for gestational diabetes, pregnancy-related diabetes that develops during pregnancy and goes away after delivery
  • Prevent preeclampsia, a complication in pregnancy characterised by a rise in blood pressure, swollen feet and a high level protein detected during a urine test
  • Decreased risk for a caesarean section
  • Faster postpartum recovery

Setting Goals to Exercise

Determine what feels comfortable for you and set goals to achieve these every week. 

Frequency and Duration

Health care professionals advocate around 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week at moderate intensity and this remains the same for pregnancy. Aerobic activities are those that work the larger muscles of your body like the legs and arms. Moderate intensity means enough movement to increase your heart rate and break a sweat. Aim to exercise for about 20 to 30 minutes on most days of week. Walking, swimming, spinning and prenatal aerobics are good options for pregnant moms.

The duration of exercise is determined by your current fitness level. If you are just starting out, set a goal for three or four days per week, increasing both frequency and duration over the next few weeks. You can start off with just 10 minutes per day.

Intensity

If you are currently active, speak to your doctor or personal trainer about your routine and your current health in terms of your pregnancy. Provided there are no pregnancy complications, you may be able to continue at your current level, or you may be advised to slow down. Even very fit pregnant women may become tired or winded faster than usual during an exercise routine. Don’t see this as a negative and push yourself harder. Decrease your intensely and pace so that you feel comfortable.

For beginners, aim for light, moderate exercise. Do not suddenly start strenuous exercises. You should be able to maintain a conversation with a friend during your workout, but not be able to sing. If you are too breathless to talk, reduce your intensity.

If you experience any light-headedness, feel faint, experience chest pain or have any blood or fluid leakage from your vagina, stop exercising immediately and contact your doctor.

Resources: www.kidshealth.org; www.mayoclinic.org; www.beautyrefinedmd.com; www.acog.org; www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au

Photo by Jelmer Assink on Unsplash

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