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Can I exercise while pregnant?

by Alexandra Hallam on Wednesday 17 October 2018


Between nausea, fatigue and some straight up weird things happening to your body, it can be sometimes tempting (and, yep, some days necessary) to put your workouts on the back burner. 

Between nausea, fatigue and some straight up weird things happening to your body, it can be sometimes tempting (and, yep, some days necessary) to put your workouts on the back burner. 

But exercising during pregnancy has many benefits. If you’re struggling, it can be really helpful to think of working out during pregnancy like training for a marathon: building up your strength over time (nine months, give or take…) will not only help you on the big day, but also help speed up post-natal recovery time. 

Virgin Active personal trainer and mother, Ana Andrepoulos, swears by staying active during pregnancy.  

“It will help to boost your confidence and improve your energy levels. It also decreases your chances of developing gestational diabetes!”

Exercising during pregnancy can also help you adjust to the major changes in your body (and reduce aches and pains) throughout your pregnancy journey. 

So what kind of exercise should pregnant women do? 

Low to moderate-intensity exercise is recommended during pregnancy – now is definitely not the time to push your limits or think about setting new PBs. 

Like always, a combination of light cardio, weight training and flexibility exercises is your ticket to a healthy pregnancy.

Instead of using a heart rate monitor, Ana recommends an easy rule of thumb to monitor your heart rate: “you have to be able to keep a conversation while training - if you can’t and you are too out of breath, it is indicative of the workout being too much.” 

(And as always, remember to chat to your doctor or midwife before starting a pregnancy exercise program. Every pregnancy is different, and they may have some you-specific things to keep in mind while you exercise!)

Pregnancy-safe cardio  

Cardio exercises can help build your stamina for labour, so they can be an important part of your routine. Walking, swimming (especially great if you’re feeling heavy) and light jogging are all great ways to get moving. It’s important not to push yourself too hard, take breaks when you need them, and make sure you drink plenty of water. 

Pregnancy strength exercises 

Great news: strength exercises can help ward off some of the aches and pains common during pregnancy. Core exercises such as ‘kneeling core balances’ help build a stronger stomach (which reduces lower back pain), while leg exercises will help reduce the fatigue that comes from carrying around quickly gained extra weight. 

And don’t forget arm-strengthening exercises, like bent over rows and chest presses – they’ll come in handy once bub is here and won’t settle anywhere but in your arms. 

While engaging your pelvic floor is important for most workouts, it’s even more important than ever during pregnancy – these are the muscles that will be working hard during labour, and strengthening them now will help avoid that infamous post-natal incontinence (yikes!). Booking into a Pilates class once a week is another great idea – just make sure your instructor knows you’re pregnant!  

Prenatal yoga and flexibility 

There’s a reason why prenatal yoga is so popular – not only does it stretch out aching muscles, build strength and improve balance as your centre of gravity changes, they’re also a fab opportunity to wind down mentally! 

Hot tip: check with your instructor before joining in on any yoga class. The hormone relaxin, which relaxes your ligaments throughout pregnancy, can lead to overstretching mishaps during long poses and do more harm than good. And as always, it’s important to listen to your body and ask for alternative poses when something doesn’t feel right. 

Still not sure where to start? 

Don’t worry – we’re here to help. Schedule a session with one of our PTs, or book in some Guru Time throughout your pregnancy to get expert advice on safe ways to exercise. 

“Remember you become more resilient after going through pregnancy and you can get your body looking better than ever as soon as you recover post-natal. Just get the right guidance.” 

Ana Andrepoulos is a Personal Trainer at Virgin Active Moore Park. Follow her on Instagram @ana_fit_pt 

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