Not sure where to start? Then check out Jessica Ennis-Hill’s golden rules for exercising safely during pregnancy
We’ve all heard the myths and misconceptions surrounding exercising when pregnant, but the ‘right’ pregnancy exercise is actually completely safe and actually recommended for the your health and the health of your baby.
For pregnant women with no contraindications, the Chief Medical Officer advises at least 150 minutes of ‘moderate intensity’ exercise every week. When it comes to what exercise you do and how you go about it, there are some golden rules to follow, which we’ll round up for you here…
1. Choose your type of exercise carefully
You’re carrying precious cargo when pregnant, so certain types of exercise are definitely best avoided. For example, steer clear of any activity where there’s a higher risk of falling or knocking your bump, like skiing, climbing, horse-riding or contact sports. Other no-nos are scuba-diving, and exercising at high altitude (over 2,500m). You could try Jennis Pregnancy workouts – each pregnancy exercise is physio-approved, explained by Jess herself, and designed to support the needs of pregnant women and the way that your muscles are growing and changing.
2. Listen to your body
It’s important to stay in touch with how your body is feeling when you’re working out in pregnancy. So if the exercise feels uncomfortable, try adapting it to make it easier or stop. And if you can’t hold a conversation while you’re working out, take the intensity down a gear. “Remember that exercising when pregnant is really about remaining fit rather than pushing yourself too hard to become fit,” says Jess.
Remember that exercising when pregnant is really about remaining fit rather than pushing yourself too hard to become fit
3. Stay well-hydrated
When you’re pregnant, you need lots of fluid to stay hydrated to give both you and your baby what you need so take plenty of sips from a water bottle when exercising.
The fluid you drink when pregnant is important for several parts of your body: it helps build your amniotic fluid and your baby’s blood supply, while also of course supporting your own blood – and there's more of it during pregnancy than normal! Aim for 1.5 litres of water a day but a little more if it’s hot, you’ve been exercising or you’re in the final trimester – it will help support your baby’s growth.
4. Don’t over-heat
Make sure you keep your core temperature cool when exercising to avoid over-heating.
Jess’ top tip? Wear loose clothes and plug in a fan when you work out! “I trained a massive fan on me when I was on the exercise bike,” she says. “I was already feeling hotter because of the baby so the breeze helped keep me cool.”
Wear loose clothes and plug in a fan when you work out – the breeze can keep you cool
5. Splash out on some new kit
To get the most out of your pregnancy workout, invest in some equipment. A Swiss ball is amazing for pelvic floor exercises and core strengthening. You’ll also need a workout mat for yoga, stretching and floor moves, and resistance bands are handy for glute exercises, stretching and upper body workout routines.
6. Warm up and cool down properly
Lots of people skip warm-ups and cool-downs when exercising but it’s really important to take the time to do this properly when pregnant. According to scientists, a gentle cool-down after a pregnancy work-out helps your breathing and heart rate return to normal.