Working Out While Pregnant: Yes Or No?
Personal trainer and mum-to-be Angela Williamson reveals the safest ways to work out with a bun in the oven
Is it okay to have a glass of plonk? A prawn vindaloo? What’s the score with eggs these days? When it comes to what you can and can’t do, pregnancy is a bit of a minefield.
Luckily, there’s one thing docs agree on. Working out while pregnant is not only safe, it’s highly beneficial: besides helping you stay fit and healthy, working out tackles some of the ‘less enjoyable’ side effects of pregnancy too. Bonus.
Moderate exercising three to four times a week can reduce the feelings of nausea and swollen joints that many lucky mums-to-be enjoy. It can combat stress, boost energy levels and aid sleep (bye-bye momsommnia). It can even result in an easier labour.
Most importantly though, exercising when pregnant is good for your baby – it improves oxygen flow to your placenta, helping your child to grow and develop.
How to work out in the first trimester (1-12 weeks)
Fresh air and exercise can help quell the queasiness
At this point you’re probably suffering from crippling nausea and sheer exhaustion, but stay positive. Peeling yourself off the sofa probably doesn’t sound that appealing, but finding time to exercise and get some fresh air can help quell the queasiness.
Now’s not the time to beast your first-ever CrossFit class or scale Kilimanjaro, though. It’s best to stick to exercise routines you’re familiar with. The first trimester is a crucial stage of pregnancy, and exercise should be mild but frequent.
What to avoid: Sports that involve a risk of tripping, falling or bumping your bump, such as football, netball or horse-riding, or any contact sports such as karate or kickboxing.
What to try:
1. Light to moderate cycling on a stationary bike (30-60mins)
2. A long walk outdoors (60mins) or on the treadmill (switch between a gradient and flat for 20-30mins)
3. Swimming (20-30mins)
How to work out in the second trimester (13-27 weeks)
In the second trimester your energy levels soar
For many people these are the best weeks of pregnancy. You can finally look at food without turning green and your energy levels soar. If you were fit before, you’ll probably find you can go back to your usual routine (although make sure you don’t exhaust yourself). If you’re still pretty new to this exercise malarkey, keep work out sessions regular and gentle.
What to avoid: Exercises where you lie on your back, particularly after 16 weeks, as the weight of your bump will press on one of the main blood vessels transporting blood to your heart, making you feel faint.
What to try:
1. Go for a run/jog at a comfortable pace on a fairly flat route (20-30mins) or try a spin class (stay seated during the class if you’re new to indoor cycling and are worried about slipping).
2. An easy/moderate circuit programme designed by a fitness instructor who specialises in pregnancy. Avoid any power or jumping exercises.
3. Yoga and Pilates – but avoid bikram yoga or any other form of heated exercise.
How to workout in the third trimester (28 -40 weeks)
Swimming is the perfect exercise for growing bellies
Okay, this is where things start to get uncomfortable. The baby’s growth spurt is huge in the last trimester – which usually means you are too! Stick to exercises you can manage and if anything hurts, or you’re just too knackered, stop.
What to avoid: Lifting heavy weights. This can put stress on your tendons and ligaments, which become more relaxed at this stage. If you have to grunt to pick up a weight, it’s too heavy. Aim to lift around 50 per cent less than you did before pregnancy.
What to try:
1. A long walk outdoors (60 mins) or on the treadmill (switch between a gradient and flat for 20-30 mins)
2. An easy/moderate circuit programme designed by an instructor who specialises in pregnancy. Avoid any power or jumping exercises.
3. Swimming is the perfect exercise for growing bellies, as you’re weightless in water. (30-40 mins)
If it’s good enough for Heidi Klum... Check out this 10-minute pre-natal workout from the supermodel’s personal trainer. Suitable for the home or gym, all you need is a set of hand weights.