Whether you are a total gym bunny or restrict your exercise to running for the bus, we all know that keeping active in pregnancy is good for you, for your baby and for an easier birth. But what is safe to do and what should you avoid? We spoke to personal trainer, Bodyin8’s Callum Melly about how you can have three trimesters of fitness when you’re pregnant.
Pregnancy is a time of change both physically and mentally and staying active during your pregnancy is actually very healthy for both you and your baby; however, you should do everything in moderation and the amount of activity you do should be based on your current activity levels. You should also take into account any health related issues you may have and, if necessary, speak to your doctor or midwife before undertaking a new exercise routine.
Each of your three trimesters in pregnancy last three months and your activity can be tailored around each, as your body changes and your baby develops.
It is perfectly safe to stay active throughout your pregnancy but again, do everything in moderation. You should aim to do about one hour of exercise each day. This, though, depends on how active you were before getting pregnant; if you weren’t very active at all prior to your pregnancy, then start by doing 15 minutes, build up to 30 minutes and then to an hour.
You don’t have to do this hour all in one go but aim for a total of an hour of activity a day. Walking is a great way to raise your pulse and to get the blood flowing around your body (which is important for the oxygen supply to your baby and great for you, too).
You should never get out of breath – though getting a little hot and sweaty is great! I would also recommend LISS cardio (low intensity steady state), which will encourage you to perform at 60-70% above your normal resting heart rate and is great for burning fat.
So what can you do during each trimester of your pregnancy?
First trimester (weeks one to 12)
You can pretty much continue to follow your original exercise routine through these weeks; however, you should avoid anything that has a risk of your getting hit, falling or dramatically raising your body temperature. Contact sports are a no-go.
Therefore, I wouldn’t recommend any HIIT or circuit training; instead, why not try controlled resistance or weight based workouts (stick to low weights – you’re toning, not trying to build muscle), with relative periods of rest to your rep/set ranges and combine this with some LISS cardio. Running is fine if you have regularly done this up to now but again, be conscious of your personal ability, trip hazards and so on.
If you’re not used to regular activity, start gently and build up.
During your second trimester (weeks 13 – 28)
You will really notice your body starting to change during this trimester as your bump begins to grow, so now is the time to ensure any high-impact activities such as running are swapped for low-impact alternatives such as power-walking.
Resistance or weight training exercises are still beneficial for maintaining a strong, lean and healthy body but stick to controlled exercises, maintain good form, focus on your posture and take adequate rest between exercises. Here’s where a personal trainer can be incredibly helpful, as they can show you the best way to exercise so as not to strain muscles or hurt your back.
Avoid any exercises that require you to lay down on your back (you should also avoid sleeping on your back from this stage), as blood flow to your baby can become restricted. Seated and standing exercises are fine. If you are unsure of anything or find you are feeling dizzy, sick or faint during exercise, be sure to talk to your midwife or GP.
During your third trimester (Weeks 29 – 40)
It is safe and indeed beneficial to stay active right up to the birth of your baby; however, this is all relative to how you feel and if you are fit and healthy to do so; again it is always better to consult your midwife or GP if you have any concerns.
Stick to low impact activities; walking and swimming are perfect in your final trimester and will help you to raise your heart rate just enough to stay fit and healthy.
The key is to listen to your body and to not overdo anything. Be aware that your body is changing and only do exercises you feel comfortable doing. Don’t be afraid to stay active throughout your pregnancy, as it really is beneficial for your health – and for your baby’s health and wellbeing.
Callum Melly is one of the UK’s leading Personal Trainers, as well as the founder of the Bodyin8.co.uk programme