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Active pregnancy:

Fitness First's pre- and post-natal specialist explains the importance of keeping active when energy levels are waning.
By Tammy Potter
Date: April 30 2015
Editor Rating:
I liken exercise during pregnancy to an elixir of life. If you bottled all the positive effects exercise can have, not only on your body but your unborn child, I don't think you’d find one person that wouldn't buy it.  
Not only does it help you sleep better and feel less exhausted but it also helps increase your energy levels, your general sense of wellbeing, and helps promote a more positive self-image. 
Research on exercise during pregnancy has shown a decrease in the likelihood of gestational diabetes, varicose veins and haemorrhoids along with improving the functional capacity of the placenta, decreasing the length of labour by up to one-third along with decreasing the stress felt by your child during labour. 
Unfortunately though, even with all the positive benefits to you and your unborn child, exercise is generally the last thing you may feel like doing when you’re expecting, and in many cases unless you’re seeking professional help, a lot of expectant mothers are too scared to exercise due to lack of knowledge around what is safe. 
Part of the reason pregnant women find their sleep is being interrupted is their raised body temperature. However, one of the positive side effects to exercise is that although while exercising your body temperature is raised, a few hours later the body temperature is lowered below where it was previous to exercising. This is the same thing that happens when our bodies prepare for sleep. 
Exercise in general promotes an increase in blood flow. This improves the flow of oxygen and nutrients carried to the muscles, increasing their ability to produce more energy.  
During pregnancy, this has a flow-on effect that can help your baby better prepare for the stress of labour. Since the baby will be used to the intermittent reduction in oxygen and blood flow that it experiences while you exercise, it will not be shocked when this happens during pregnancy.   
You want to prepare your body for labour the best way possible. Continuing to exercise throughout your pregnancy, specifically with weight baring exercises, is one of the best ways to prepare your body for the stress of labour. 
An anecdote I always use when likening exercise during pregnancy to general exercise is training for a half marathon. When asked, most people who have completed a half marathon would tell you they prepared for this by completing anywhere between 8-12 weeks of training (at a minimum) to be able to cross that finish line.   
A half marathon at a reasonable pace takes approximately 2 hours. Labour can take up to 24-36 hours in total. You want to be prepared for this the best way possible, and by continuing to exercise throughout your pregnancy, it is only adding to a more positive experience. 
The main consideration I instil in all my expecting mothers is to listen to your body when exercising.  If you feel like you’re working too hard you generally are; if something doesn't feel right, stop doing it. Trust yourself no matter what anyone else is telling you because no-one knows your body better than you do. 
Energising Workout for soon to be and new mums 
This great workout requires little equipment, helps increase blood flow and re-energise the body, even when feeling exhausted. This can be done safely during pregnancy as well as once baby has arrives. 
3 sets of 15 reps 
A1. Swiss Ball Single Leg Wall Squat 
A2. Swiss Ball wall push up 
A3. Kettle Bell Sumo Squat 
Rest 1 minute between each set and repeat three times 
B1. Swiss Ball Hip Extension 
B2. Renegade Row (on knees) 
B3. 4 Point horse stance 
Rest 1 minute between each set and repeat three times 
Ensure you adequately warm up and cool down.  For a 45-minute work out you want to be looking at 10 minutes warm up and cool down. 
* * *
For further information about exercise during pregnancy, get in touch with Tammy via Fitness First
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