Fit for (new) life

Keeping fit and active while pregnant is a must, so choose an activity you love – and keep going after the birth too!

Experts agree that taking plenty of exercise during pregnancy helps you keep fit and healthy and it also boosts your mood. Whilst you shouldn’t suddenly start an extreme sport while you’re pregnant, you can do most forms of exercise (avoid impact sports though) with no need to change your fitness régime when you’re expecting.

If you are currently taking exercise or thinking of doing so, why not look for
an activity that you can carry on doing after your baby comes along? Although many gyms have crèches, it’s not always convenient to book a time – as babies come with their own timetable! Here are some great ideas for activities that will help you have an active pregnancy and keep going when baby comes along too.

Walking

During pregnancy: Great for posture, heart, legs and hips, a good, brisk walk each day will keep you fit and healthy. It also has the added bonus of getting you into the great outdoors and this can really help with your mental health; it’s so easy to get bogged down with work and home life and not see grass or trees from one day to the next. Take an early morning walk in the park (especially good for dog owners) or get off your train or bus a stop early on the way to or from work.

Keep it up with baby: From the very early days after the birth you can start to take short walks to the shops or park. Take baby with you in a pushchair or a carrier so they get some fresh air too.

Yoga or Pilates

During pregnancy: Ideal for keeping your body supple and for stretching muscles that might get tight and tense as you adjust to carrying the extra weight, both yoga and Pilates offer additional benefits in the form of relaxation and meditative breathing techniques. They are also excellent for helping you practice beneficial postures for labour and birth, especially squatting. Make sure you look for a specialist pregnancy class to protect joints.

Keep it up with baby: Once baby comes along, find a class that will let you take them along (maybe your pregnancy group will start a new class) or do a little work-out each day with baby next to you.

Running

During pregnancy: As running has become more popular, many women use this as a regular form of exercise and it helps keep your whole body, heart and lungs fit. Now you’re pregnant, if this is normal for you, there’s no need to stop or slow down – though obviously, you should be careful not to fall, so stick to smooth surfaces. Make sure that you keep properly hydrated and remember that you should be able to hold a conversation while running and never get too out of breath.

Keep it up with baby: While your baby won’t be running for some time, you can still keep up this great exercise with a running pushchair. Make sure it’s suitable and keep the wrist strap on.

Swimming

During pregnancy: One of the best forms of exercise for the whole body, swimming is great for pregnant women as it takes the weight off your spine, legs and feet. You can use any arm stroke but towards the second and third trimester, avoid frog leg strokes in favour of small kicks up and down to avoid over-stretching the hip joints. Use swimming to build up your muscle tone and stamina as you head towards the birth- plus it gives you more competent, healthier lungs as you breathe deeply.

Keep it up with baby: When baby comes along, there’s nothing better than enjoying baby swimming classes. Babies love the water and it’s a great way for you to bond and meet other mummies too.

Dancing

During pregnancy: There’s a dance style to suit all tastes, from ballet to street dance, from swing to salsa. If you have been a dancer up until now, you shouldn’t stop, as it’s a great workout for the whole body. Avoid anything that involves lifts or jumps and keep a close eye on your joints to avoid injury. Barre classes are great for beginners, as they combine elements of ballet techniques and stretching with a full body workout. It helps you maintain and build muscle tone all over.

Keep it up with baby: Babies love to move and so they can start to take baby dance classes almost as soon as they can toddle. You can also put some music on at home and jig along together!

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