We consulted some fitness gurus and asked them to share some easy but effective ways for you to get your preggy and post-preggy body into shape. By Candice Tehini
1. Take a stroll
Now that the weather is warmer and the sun is rising earlier, you have the perfect opportunity to exercise in a more comfortable temperature either in the morning or evenings. “It’s safer to create your workout routine around these times, as it helps prevent overheating and dehydration,” advises Chantal Da Silva, exercise and nutrition specialist. As a new or expectant mom, lengthy workouts are usually out the picture. Lifestyle and wellness expert, Lisa Raleigh, recommends choosing quality over quantity by adding some fast-paced intervals in between your regular strides. “This is a fool-proof way to add some intensity, without letting your heart rate sky rocket,” she says. Including as many gentle inclines as you can into your route will maximise the toning benefits as well. A good starting point is 20 minutes of walking per day three times a week, with at least five one-to-two-minute intervals at a quicker pace.
2. Early bird aerobics
Summer morning outdoor activities are an easy way to help get in shape. “The mornings are cooler and your body will feel more energised with the fresh air, and there’s the added benefit of soaking up some vitamin D from the sunshine. Morning exercise is also a great way to ensure that exercise forms part of your daily routine, before the post-breakfast craziness of the day begins,” says Chantal. She explains that kick-starting your day on a healthy note will also help you make healthier choices throughout your day – summer means more water, fresh fruits and vegetables.
3. Find a gap
“Gym sessions can be impossible for new moms, and may seem like a safety hazard for those expecting,” says Lisa. “Try to squeeze in a few exercises throughout each day, during the times that suit you best – this could be while you’re watching TV, standing over the stove, or even brushing your teeth,” she says. Try standing on one leg: it seems ridiculously easy, but it works deep core muscles because your stabilising muscles are activated. Seated squats are another excellent option: each time you get up from the couch, repeat the action a few times, sitting down and rising back up again, slowly. Lisa also suggests leaning push-ups: stand a short distance away from the kitchen counter or the back of the couch, and place your hands on the surface. Now lower your chest by bending your arms and keeping the rest of your body straight. “If this is too abstract for you, pick three exercises that you’re happy to do, and commit to doing each one for three minutes at a time. Try do this three times a day, and you’ll have clocked in almost 20 minutes of exercising effortlessly,” she adds.
4. Be cool
Keeping your strength up is vital, but when you do strength or resistance training, “always do a proper warm-up and cool down and include light stretches,” says personal trainer, Emilio Skroce. During pregnancy, your body releases a hormone called relaxin, which allows your joints and ligaments to soften in preparation for child birth. Emilio warns against over-extending the joints by doing things like deep squats, which may lead to injury due to your softened ligaments. He also suggests drinking water and eating small, healthy, meals to keep your sugar levels up.
5. Summer splashing
Swimming is a fantastic way to cool off. “Many pregnant ladies find the buoyancy and low impact of exercising in water, soothing, specifically for back pain and discomforts” says Chantal. The benefits of swimming and water aerobics are plentiful. The average pool workout for 30 minutes burns 300 calories. It’s also a great way to build endurance, it creates a gentle environment in which to exercise, and it combats fatigue. Expectant moms, give backstroke a miss, though, as blood flow to the vena cava artery is restricted in this position. Aim to include a swimming routine together with your walking so you reach an alternating program 3-5 times per week for about 30 minutes.
6. Have a ball
“Switch your office chair for an exercise ball. I can’t say this enough, as it’s such a simple and effective tool for burning calories and toning throughout the day,” says Lisa. If you’re an expectant mom, you’ll be strengthening important birthing muscles while keeping your core engaged; and if you’re a new mom, it’s gentle enough to work the pelvic floor and core muscles almost immediately after birth. If you’re sitting for long periods of time, switch back to an ordinary chair for a break every three hours. Lisa says the bonus of sitting on an exercise ball is that it’s surprisingly energising as well, and wards off the sleepiness that accompanies slouching on a stationary chair.
*Originally published in October 2014
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