Pregnancy & Exercise
Exercise can help you stay in shape and prepare you for labor and delivery
Pregnancy can be a great time to get active — even if you haven’t exercised in a while.
Before you begin an exercise program while you are pregnant, make sure you have your health care provider’s approval. Although exercise during pregnancy is generally good for both mother and baby, your doctor might advise you not to exercise. See below for the benefits and precautions relating to exercise during pregnancy.
- Cardiovascular exercises – At least 30 minutes of moderate exercise is recommended on most, if not all, days of the week. For example, walking is a great exercise for pregnant women. It provides moderate aerobic conditioning with minimal stress on your joints. Other good choices include low-impact water aerobics and stationary bike. If you haven’t exercised for a while. Begin with as little as five minutes of physical activity a day. Build up to 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and so on, until you reach at least 30 minutes a day. Not forgetting to take frequent breaks, and drink plenty of fluids during exercise.
- Strength training is OKAY – As long as you stick to relatively low weights. Strength training should emphasize improving tone, especially in the upper body and abdominal area. Avoid lifting weights above your head and using weights that strain the lower back muscles.
- Intensity – In general, you should be able to carry on a conversation while you’re exercising. If you can’t speak normally while you’re working out, you’re probably pushing yourself too hard. Listen to your body.
- Remember to always warm up, stretch and cool down. Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, and be careful to avoid overheating.
- Before you begin an exercise program – consult your primary care provider and biokineticist on your health care team which can help you develop an appropriate exercise program specifically for you.
Written by: Megan-Lea Baker
- American Pregnancy Association. 2017. Exercise during Pregnancy: Safety, Benefits & Guidelines. [ONLINE] Available at: http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/exercise-during-pregnancy/. [Accessed 18 May 2017].
- Barsky E. Smith T. Patricios J. Collins R. Branfield A. Ramagole M. 2012. South African Sports Medicine Association Position Statement on Exercise in Pregnancy. South African Journal of Sports Medicine. Vol. 24 No. 2 Pg. 69-71
- Mayo Clinic. 2017. Pregnancy and exercise: Baby, let’s move!. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/pregnancy-and-exercise/art-20046896. [Accessed 18 May 2017].
- Nahed M. Ezmerli, MD. 2000. Exercise in Pregnancy. Elsevier Science Inc. Vol. 7 No. 6 Pg. 261-265
- 2017. Exercise During Pregnancy. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/exercise-during-pregnancy#1. [Accessed 17 May 2017].
Exercise & WINTER
Safe exercise guidelines for the colder months
As the days draw in and the temperature starts dropping, regular exercise becomes more challenging. As the weather gets colder it takes longer for our bodies to adjust to different temperatures, no matter if the weather is going from hot to cold or vice versa. One of the biggest mistakes you can make when exercising in cold weather is to dress too warmly, exercise generates a considerable amount of heat making you feel like it’s much warmer than it really is, this can be avoided by dressing in layers of clothing that you can remove as soon as you start to sweat and then put back on as needed.
Whether you’re a gym veteran or just a beginner, adding variety or new workouts to your regular exercise program it will make it easier to defeat the winter blues of training. It’s all too easy to pack away your workout clothing but you don’t have to let a spell of cold weather end your exercise habits, there are plenty of ways to stay active during the winter.
Don’t skip the warm-up
Doing a warm up before you start is important as it physically prepares your body for the demands of the workout by gradually increasing your body temperature. It will also steadily increase your heart rate, increase circulation to your muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and mentally prepare you for your workout, preventing injuries. Taking an extra five to ten minutes to do some low-level aerobic exercise like walking at a brisk pace or jogging is always a good idea, but even more so in winter.
If you are going to be exercising outside, check the weather forecast for the time you’ll be outside. Temperature, wind, and moisture, along with the length of time that you’ll be outside, are key considerations in planning a safe cold-weather workout. When exercising in colder weather blood flow is concentrated to your body’s core, leaving your head, hands and feet vulnerable, try wearing a thin pair of gloves and thick thermal socks or an extra pair of regular socks to keep your hands and feet warm. Not forgetting a hat, buff, or beanie to protect your head and ears.
Regular exercise will make you feel more energetic while decreasing tension, frustration, and depression. Some research suggests that moderate exercise can strengthen the immune system and reduce the risk of colds and flu’s, which should make it a little easier to get out of your warm bed on cold, dark mornings. Studies indicate that if you exercise regularly, as opposed to a sedentary lifestyle, you might not become immune, but definitely less prone to illness, however this does not mean you should exercise when you have flu though.
Can you exercise when you are ill?
Some guidelines to bear in mind when exercising with a cold or flu is not to exercise too strenuously when experiencing upper respiratory tract infection symptoms like a sore throat, coughing, runny or congested nose. Avoid all exercise when experiencing symptoms like muscle and/or joint pain and headache, fever and generalised feeling of malaise, diarrhoea or vomiting. If no fever is present and there is no worsening of your initial symptoms, undertake light exercise (heart rate < 120 beats per minute) for 30-45 minutes preferably indoors during winter. If there is no worsening of your symptoms and you are starting to feel better you can undertake moderate exercise (heart rate < 150 beats per minute) for 45-60 minutes.
However, it is important to stop training and consult your doctor if a new episode with fever occurs or if initial symptoms become worse, coughing persists or breathing problems during exercise occur, but if you are ill, remember to look after your body and give yourself time to recover before you immerse yourself in all of life’s challenges.
Always keep in mind the above the neck rule: If your symptoms include a runny nose, dry cough or sneezing, you should be fine for exercise. But if your symptoms are below the neck, such as chest congestion, muscle aches, and diarrhea make sure to rest. Listen to your body, colds and cases of flu typically last a week to 10 days but you may need as much as two to three weeks to recover from the flu, depending on the severity. Don’t go 100% for the first three or four days, start at 50% for the first two or three days then slowly increase your workout to 75%, if you try to go back to soon you may just end up prolonging your recovery phase.
Remembering that regular exercise is a critical part of staying healthy, but most of all can be fun and good for your mental and physical health. Challenge yourself to get exercising this winter or to change up your regular exercise program, it is always a good idea to consult your doctor before you begin exercising.
Written by Megan-Lea Baker (Biokineticist)
- 2017. How to Keep Working Out In The Winter. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/how-to-keep-working-out-in-winter#1. [Accessed 6 April 2017].
- NHS choices. 2016. Exercising in winter. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/pages/winterexercise.aspx. [Accessed 6 April 2017].
- Live life get active. 2016. 6 reasons why it’s even more important to exercise in winter. [ONLINE] Available at: https://livelifegetactive.com/blog/exercise-in-winter/. [Accessed 6 April 2017].
- Mayo Clinic. 2017. Winter fitness: Safety tips for exercising outdoors. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/fitness/art-20045626. [Accessed 6 April 2017]
- 2017. Colds and flu. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.health24.com/Medical/Flu/About-Flu/should-you-exercise-when-you-have-a-cold-or-flu-20160706. [Accessed 11 April 2017].
- 2017. Exercise and th Common Cold. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/cold-guide/exercise-when-you-have-cold#1. [Accessed 11 April 2017].