Pregnancy can be a frustrating time if you’re a fitness fanatic, but providing you have a clean bill of health from your GP there’s no need to hang up your trainers or leave your leotard in the drawer for nine months.
A recent study, conducted by Kansas City University in America, showed that there were numerous benefits for unborn bambinos if their mothers took moderate exercise during pregnancy. The scientists’ findings suggested that exercise during pregnancy was linked to better foetal heart health and nervous system development.
This is great news for anyone who relies on a daily dose of exercise-induced endorphins to keep them feeling on top form, although the key lies in finding sports that don’t jeopardise the wellbeing of your unborn baby. Certain physical activities are understandably less suitable for pregnant mums than others.
Indeed a quick look at the list of sports which aren’t advised during pregnancy might leave you with the impression that the extent of your sporting endeavours is now restricted to strolling down to your local day spa for a relaxing facial and a nurturing massage, or sitting in an armchair at home, playing a Wii.
Scuba diving, for example, is an absolute “no-no”, as air bubbles could form in your blood stream as you surface, endangering both you and your unborn baby. Bungee-jumping is also out – this is not what people have in mind when they talk about a “bouncing baby”…
Contact sports such as hockey are best avoided too, owing to the risk of falling over or being hit in the stomach by an out of control stick or ball (or player!).
Other sports that carry a high risk of falling or impact should also be given a body swerve. For no matter how skilled a downhill skier, water-skier or snowboarder you are, accidents can – and do – happen.
Fortunately, however, there are a number of fun sporting activities that you can still safely pursue to keep fit during your pregnancy – with the approval of your healthcare provider, of course.
For example, provided you’re not taking them up for the first time in your life, moderate running and aerobics are both recommended – preferably done on a regular basis, since a routine is easier on your body than periods of inertia, punctuated by spurts of activity.
However, it’s always wise to let the aerobics instructor at your local gym or health spa know that you’re pregnant so that they can advise you about any moves which you should avoid during classes.
Swimming and water exercise classes are generally recommended during pregnancy, as the water buoys the body and eases the pressure on tired joints. Most leading spas and fitness clubs offer a range of suitable water-based sessions.
Water is an ideal medium for pregnant women to exercise in, because as Marion Sulprizio, a sports psychologist from Cologne University’s Department of Health Research points out: “Strenuous activities are possible in water without raising the heart rate.”
If you’re a keen cyclist, you should be able to keep those wheels spinning merrily until well through the second trimester of your pregnancy, though you may need to leave your bicycle sulking in the shed for the last trimester once your gradually expanding girth risks throwing you off balance.
Whichever form of exercise you choose to pursue during your pregnancy, the key to success is to heed your doctor’s advice at all times and to be guided by how you’re feeling as each week of your pregnancy passes. Don’t try to run when you’re not sure you can even walk!