easy ways to keep active during Pregancy
Whether you are planning to conceive or already pregnant, itís important to start thinking about your own health and that of your baby from the very beginning. Being at an optimum level of health before and during your pregnancy will give you the best chance of minimizing any complications and minor ailments.
Giving birth can be very demanding on your body so being fit and healthy will improve your chances of having an easier labour and speedier recovery. This doesnít mean you need to embark on a grueling fitness regime when you become pregnant but there are many ways you can keep yourself fit and active.

If you donít already exercise
Itís not advised to start a new exercise program with the intention of gaining a minimum amount of weight during your pregnancy. However, moderate exercise (such as walking or swimming) that will not increase your heart rate too much is a great way to keep your weight under control, sustain your dwindling energy levels and help maintain proper circulation.

Maintaining your existing fitness
If you already exercise you can continue with your usual program once you have the ok from your GP or midwife but you will need to modify the type of exercise you do as your pregnancy progresses and your body shape (and centre of gravity) changes.
Balancing cardiovascular exercise & strength training is important to help prepare your body for the laborious task of giving birth and arrival of your new baby.

When not to exercise
In some situations exercise will be not recommended at all (certain medical conditions) so be sure to ask your care provider for as much detail as possible in relation to how much or how little exercise is allowed.

Your body will tell you
It is more important than ever to listen to your body while you are pregnant, pushing the boundaries, no matter how pressured you feel to maintain your figure or meet the demands of your existing work/family life.
Rest & relaxation is essential for anyone but more than ever during pregnancy. Whenever you get a chance elevate your legs to encourage proper circulation in your lower limbs and prevent fluid retention.

Your heart rate
As your baby grows he will take up a lot of room in your abdomen (you really have to wonder where everything else goes to fit your baby in) putting pressure on your lungs causing shortness of breath from the slightest exertion.
Your resting heart rate will rise on average 15-20 beats per minute and your blood volume increases by 25-50% by the end of your pregnancy. It is a good idea to monitor your heart rate and as a guide if you are aged between 30 & 40 your heart rate can be raised to anywhere between 130 & 150 beats per minute (bpm). Always check with your GP or seek out a personal trainer who has experience with pregnant women for more specific figures. Your maximum heart rate will depend on your fitness level and any existing health conditions. As stated before, listen to your body and do not over exert yourself.

Body Temperature
Your body temperature naturally increases during pregnancy by approximately 0.5 degrees. Becomming overheated by over exerting yourself during warm weather or going into a hot bath or spa can cause damage to your unborn baby so avoid both of these situations by drinking plenty of water during exercise and if possible excercise in an airconditioned environment and and have warm baths instead of hot.
Preventing dehydration is essential so drink a minimum of 2Lt of water on a normal day and when exercising or during warm weather increase this to 3Lt per day. Drinking enough water will also help prevent or reduce fluid retention.

Pelvic floor exercises
Donít forget your pelvic floor! You cannot underestimate the importance of having strong pelvic floor muscles before, during and after your pregnancy. Most antenatal exercise classes will have a strong emphasis on pelvic floor exercise but unless you are attending the class every day it will not be enough. Try to do them whenever you think about for example while you are cooking dinner, driving in the car or watching TV. It may help to stick some post-it notes around to remind you.You can sit on a fit ball at your computer or while watching TV to do your pelvic floor exercises or keep movement throughout your pelvis by gently rotating your hips in circular, side to side & backwards & forwards motion.

The extra weight of your baby at the front of your body is pulling your hips backwards and your shoulders forward, squashing your lungs and decreasing the room your baby has to stretch and move. Think about your posture and stand up as straight and tall as you can, gently push your hips forward and shoulders back to open up the abdominal area.

Musculoskeletal complaints
Complaints such as sciatica, leg cramps and general aches and pains are common during pregnancy. Visit an Osteopath as a gentle and effective way to help maintain your posture, keep your body aligned and relieve pain. Also find a remedial massage therapist who specialises in pregnancy and preferably has a specific table with a hole cut out for your belly so you can lie face down, if not for a particular musculoskeletal problem, then just do it to spoil yourself - you deserve it!

Types of exercise
There are many exercise classes specific for pregnant women including Water aerobics, Yoga & Pilates. The ĎGuild of Pregnancy & Postnatal Exercise Instructorsí has a list of specially trained teachers.Some people are more motivated if they join a class and others love to get out on their own and go for a walk or swim, either way, find what works for you and make it as much a part of your day as brushing your teeth!

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