To be physically fit basically means to be in a state of good health and wellbeing.
Someone who is physically fit must be flexible, have a very good cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance and a lean body composition.
During pregnancy, some changes happen to the body. This change increases the needs of the body. The mother has to be physically fit for herself and unborn child.
How Does Pregnancy Affect Physical Fitness?
- There is a tendency to gain weight during pregnancy, which can affect the body composition.
- The pelvic floor muscles that help to support the pregnancy during this period may not be as strong or as flexible as before because of the weight of the baby. This affects the muscle endurance and strength of the pelvic floor muscles.
- Poor posture during pregnancy affects the back muscles and flexibility, which tends to cause pain.
What Benefits Does Being Fit During Pregnancy Have?
Doctors and physiotherapists advise pregnant women to be fit during pregnancy because of the amazing benefits that can be gotten from it. Some of these benefits are:
- You sleep better
- You have more energy
- It improves your mood
- It helps to control weight gain
- It helps to prevent high blood pressure that may come up during pregnancy
- It helps to prevent gestational diabetes that usually comes up during pregnancy
- It corrects the poor posture pregnant woman assume
- It relieves back pain
- It prevents any complications that may arise from childbirth such as an inability to control urine.
So How Can You Stay Physically Fit During Pregnancy?
Try and be active for at least 150 minutes a week
You can spread your activities throughout the week. Some activities that can be done include:
- Running on a treadmill
- Using the stairs and not the lift (you can use a home elliptical machine to mimic this movement
- Going shopping and carrying grocery bags
- Playing, especially if you have an older child
Activities should be done in bouts of at least 10 minutes
Break up your exercises. For example, if you are trying to achieve 30 minutes of activity in a day, you can start with:
- 10 minutes walk in the morning
- 10 minutes use of the stairs in the afternoon
- 10 minutes dancing in the evening
Do muscle strengthening exercises at least twice a week
A major strengthening exercise that should be done during pregnancy is the Kegel exercise. This exercise strengthens the pelvic floor muscles that are responsible for supporting the womb and the bladder. If these muscles get weak, it can contribute to back pain and may make the labor and childbirth process uncomfortable.
If you are not active, start gradually
If you were never fit before pregnancy, it is not too late to start. Start slowly. Try them all and start with the one you enjoy. You do not have to meet up with 150 minutes once you start but let it be your goal. Starting with 10 minutes daily will be 70 minutes in a week, then you gradually increase till you get to 150 minutes.
If you were active, keep it going
Do not let pregnancy stop your fit life. Continue your exercises but however, inform your doctor as well as there may be a need to reduce your intensity as the pregnancy grows.
Precautions To Take While Keeping Fit During Pregnancy
Listen to your body
Pain or discomfort is the language the body speaks when it is working pass its limit. Once you feel pain or discomfort, stop the workout you are doing
See a health care provider
If the mother was exercising before the pregnancy, she should continue but also inform a doctor or a physiotherapist to educate her about controlling the intensity in different stages of the pregnancy. This is to avoid any complications that may arise from over exercising during pregnancy.
Other Precautions Include:
- Wear Comfortable Clothing And Use A Pillow For Support When Necessary
- Drink Water
- Do Not Exercise Till You Are Tired
- Avoid Any Contact Sport
- Avoid Any Exercise That May Involve Falling
- Avoid Any Exercise That May Involve Lying On Your Back
Guest article by Dr. Charles-Davies, a medical practitioner who spends some of his time educating members of the public.
By: Dr. Omiete Charles-Davies
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