Pregnancy Exercises - Exercises Before, During, After Pregnancy, Benefit of safe exercise

Exercise is indeed important for weight loss in pregnancy. Your weight depends on the balance between the food you take in and the energy you burn up with exercise. If you take in more energy from your food than you burn up with exercise, you will gain weight. If you burn up more energy with exercise than y ou take in with your food, you will lose weight. If you do not take much r egular exercise, you should build up gradually before you get pregnant.

If possible, find a form of exercise you enjoy and make it part of your routine during pregnancy. For example, this could be walking, jogging, swimming, cycling or 'robics. The important thing is to do it regularly. Thirty minutes of moderate ex ercise three times a week or more will make a big difference to your fitness. Increase your exercise as you go about your daily activities. walk wherever possible and take the stairs instead of the lift. Regular exercise is also good for reducing stress and will make you feel more energetic, as well as increasing your sense of well-being.

Make the time for regular exercise, trying to make it a part of your day. If you have any medical problems or are overweight then your doctor can advise you on suitable forms of exercise for you after analysing your health in pregnancy.

A programme of a weight-reducing diet specific to your needs should be implemented, along with an increase in your physical activity. In the longer term a change in eating patterns or lifestyle, to include a healthy diet and exercise, should be established to maintain a steady weight and avoid further increases.

I haven't been taking regular exercise. Can I start in pregnancy?

If you are not used to regular exercise, you should start gradually with a low- intensity, low-impact activity like swimming or walking. A brisk 30 minutes of walking, ideally with part of it uphill, three times a week, will lead to improvements in fitness within two weeks. This will build up your stamina, which is one of the major objectives of exercising in pregnancy. Before you start each exercise session, it is worth spending 4-5 minutes on muscle warm-ups. A ' cool down ' period of gradually declining exercise at the end of exercise is also advisable. It is usually best to limit your activity to 15-minute periods with five minutes' rest in between each session. However, if you have any medical or obstetric problems, you should consult your doctor before starting any exercise programme.

Exercises that stretch these muscles, such as sit-ups and straight leg raising, will stress these muscles further, which will slow down the speed at which they get back to normal after the pregnancy. In addition, when you get up from lying down, you should take care not to strain these abdominal muscles. Roll over on to your side, push yourself up with your arms, then get into a kneeling position and stand up, one leg at a time and keeping your back straight. Another reason not to exercise while lying on your back in pregnancy is to avoid feeling faint. When you are pregnant and lie on your back, the weight of the pregnancy can obstruct the large blood vessels in your abdomen, which are returning blood to the heart. The heart therefore has less blood to pump out and as a result you can feel faint.

If you feel any strain during exercise, you should stop at once to prevent damage to your ligaments. Your ligaments - very strong fibrous bands of tissue that hold bones together, including those of the pelvis - soften in pregnancy to allow more room in the pelvis to help ease the passage of the baby through the birth canal. However, this softening also makes them more likely to be strained if you stretch too far.

I usually jog several times a week. Can I continue this?

From 20 weeks onwards, it is thought best by some doctors to avoid exercises, such as jogging and jumping, that cause the womb and the baby to bounce up and down on your pelvic floor because this might lead to weakening of your pelvic floor. Other doctors believe that moderate amounts of jogging are not harmful, however. Jogging can stress your joints and your breasts, so if you do jog, wear a supportive sports bra and running shoes that will absorb some of the shock.

If you are a serious runner and jog frequently, it is probably best to reduce the number of kilometres you do after 28 weeks of pregnancy, and further reduce it after 36 weeks. This is because there is some concern that strenuous prolonged exercise at this stage of pregnancy could reduce the blood supply to the baby. You can, of course, replace jogging with less strenuous forms of exercise in later pregnancy.

Are there any medical conditions or pregnancy complications where exercise should be avoided?

You should avoid vigorous or strenuous exercise in certain situations and in other conditions more care and supervision may be required . If you have one of these problems, you should talk to your doctor about exercise before you embark on it in pregnancy. It is sometimes best to restrict yourself to stretching-type exercises only.

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