Conventional wisdom dictates that it is not the best idea to be overly active while pregnant. At the same time, it is equally important not to become too laid back as the same issues that can arise normally can also occur during pregnancy. Weight gain, reduced fitness levels and even specific pregnancy-related issues can arise in those that are too docile, such as pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes.
While pregnant, you will not want to be running marathons and pushing for personal bests in the weight room. For this reason, those that are normally particularly active may have to cut down or focus their attention elsewhere. At the other end of the scale, those that are traditionally fairly inactive will benefit from upping their motivation levels, with more energy, better sleep and improved moods just some of the by-products.
1. Walk Shorter Distances rather than Driving
If you normally get around by car, then cut down on emissions on shorter journeys by simply leaving the car at home. If you prefer to take the bus or another form of public transport, get off and on a stop early where possible and get your heartrate up by walking the rest of the way.
2. Make Your Breaks Active
Most women stay in work for much of their pregnancy. If you are not in a physical role already and find yourself sitting down for extended periods, remember the importance of getting up and moving around regularly. Small breaks throughout the day can contribute, but a concerted effort to get out and about during your lunch break could be some of the best-spent time of the entire day.
3. Take the Stairs instead of the Lift
Following on from our first tip, taking the opportunity to walk instead of being ferried around also applies in the workplace, shopping centres and anywhere else that occupies multiple floors. For expecting mothers specifically, using the stairs will work the legs and stomach muscles, which can lead to additional benefits as the birth draws nearer.
4. Focus on Keeping the Arms Active
When the baby arrives, there will be plenty of lifting, carrying and holding – and not just of the baby! It is therefore important to make a concerted effort to maintain arm strength throughout pregnancy, especially as it is easy to neglect. It is important not to do anything overly stressful, and we would not recommend lifting more than is comfortable. Instead, make a point of carrying bags or anything else when the opportunity arises and is comfortable.
5. Make Use of Your Other Kids if you have Them
Walking is arguably the most effective form of exercise during pregnancy – as evidenced by its frequent appearances throughout these tips. If you already have other kids, the chances are they need to go to school, day care or nursery, and walking them there over driving them or getting someone else to do it can be highly beneficial.
6. Up the Energy Levels during Household Chores
Whether cooking, cleaning or doing anything else around the home, it is possible to exert a little more effort for greater benefits. This could involve doing it more quickly, or potentially doing more than you might have planned to during a single session. Music is a great motivator here, so turn up your favourite tunes and work along to the beat for some noticeable health benefits.
7. Play with Pets
If you are in a household with pets, then the chances are that they can fit in well with your increased activity levels. Most dogs, and several other kinds of pets, have seemingly boundless energy and playing with them, taking them for an extra walk each day or simply interacting in an active manner can bring plenty of benefits.
8. Don’t Neglect the Garden
When the effects of pregnancy are making themselves felt, it can be tempting to stay indoors. Heading out into the garden can, however, make for a double boost on days when the weather is good. Mowing the lawn, planting flowers or just having a stroll can all be beneficial from the exercise perspective, and the sun will help along with that ever-useful vitamin D.
9. Work with your Health Provider
There is plenty of support out there for expecting mothers, specifically from midwives and other health professionals. Most will provide the new parent with a selection of exercises that have been specifically designed not to be too intense on the body and potentially directly beneficial to giving birth. This spans everything from working on the pelvic floor muscles to keeping the heart healthy, and this advice can be invaluable. Particularly useful is the fact that these professionals can offer personalised advice – if you tend to be more active than average, then they will be able to advise on what they consider as being appropriate for you going forward.
10. Attend Classes
Pregnancy is probably not the time to join up with an advanced spin class for the first time. However, there are both dedicated pregnancy exercise classes out there, along with less intense options like swimming and yoga that can suit all tastes and styles.