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Pregnancy Workout Myths

There are so many conflicting articles associated with this topic, so I thought today's blog i would run through a few of these. I decided tmy pre and post natal Training Qualification last year, as I had always been interested in the facts behind women training whilst pregnant, and do you need to really spend 9 months on the couch, giving up your favourite workout !!!

Myth 1: When it comes to exercise, you should take it easy and/or keep your heart rate under 140 beats per minute. Unless your doctor recommends sticking to walks, yoga, and light weights, which she may do in high-risk situations, the best way to prepare for the hardest leg of your pregnancy — those last few months — and cope with labor is to get a minimum of 30 minutes of mild to moderate exercise on most days. While pregnancy isn't the time to break any records, you'll have more stamina and confidence if you go into labor feeling fit. In other words, it's perfectly safe to continue with your regularly scheduled workouts even after you get pregnant as long as you listen to your body.

Myth 2: You can't play sports when you're pregnant.In most cases, pregnancy doesn't mean giving up athletics. With your doctor's blessing, you can continue to compete as usual for as long as is practical, which may mean giving up a sport such as golf if your baby belly begins to interfere with the trajectory of your swing. That said, you'll want to avoid any sport that comes with a high risk of falling — like skiing, rollerblading, gymnastics, racquet sports, and horseback riding — or contact sports such as hockey, soccer, and basketball. With an altered sense of balance, you're even more likely to take a tumble, and you'll want to avoid any blows to the abdomen. If you take part in any sports, consult your doctor to figure out if and when it's time to step back.

Myth 3: Exercise leads to dangerous overheating and dehydration. While it's true that overheating can be dangerous for your baby's development — particularly in the first trimester, when overheating has been associated with neural tube defects — taking a few precautions can keep you safe while exercising. Stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water before, during and after exercising (but no more than 16 ounces at a time); for every half hour of moderate activity, you'll need at least a full glass of extra liquid to replace the fluids you use up.

Myth 4: Exercise will only make you more exhausted. It may seem paradoxical, but getting too much rest can make you feel more tired, while a little exercise can go a long way in boosting your energy. That said, if you're ready for a nap after your workout, you've likely worked too hard.

Myth 5: Running during pregnancy is unsafe. While pregnancy isn't the time to start training for a marathon, experienced runners can continue running, as long as they stick to level terrain (to reduce the risk of falls) and limit the distance if they feel tired. Keep in mind that loosening ligaments and joints during pregnancy can make you more prone to injury -- another reason not to overdo it.

Myth 6: It's too dangerous to lift weights. Lifting super heavy loads can require you to hold your breath, which can compromise blood flow to the uterus — but that doesn't mean weight training is off limits. Performing multiple reps with light weights is perfectly safe and encouraged to help maintain muscle tone.

Myth 7: You can't exercise on bed rest. It's extra important to flex your muscles while on bed rest to maintain your strength, so ask your practitioner about daily exercises, which can include arm exercises involving light weights and stretching.

Myth 8: It's no big deal if you don't have time for a warm-up and cool-down. Because muscles and joints are more prone to injury when they're cold, warming them up is especially important during pregnancy when injury is the last complication you need. You'll also want to allocate at least five minutes to cool down after any vigorous activity, as stopping abruptly can trap blood in the muscles, which reduces blood flow to other parts of your body and to the baby. To prevent dizziness, faintness, extra heart beats, and nausea, slow down gradually when wrapping up any routine.

Myth 9: The more you exercise, the more you benefit. Yes, you and your baby benefit from exercise during pregnancy. But getting too much exercise can lead to problems like dehydration, lack of oxygen to the baby, and injury. Pregnancy is not the time to increase your fitness but to maintain it. Listen to your body and taper off if you're feeling drained after your workouts.

Myth 10: Only prenatal exercise classes are safe for pregnant women. While it's great to take a class that's specifically geared towards prenatal fitness with instructors who are specially trained to make modifications to keep pregnant women safe, most women don't need to take special prenatal fitness classes until the second trimester. That said, you should always let your fitness instructor know you're pregnant before class 

Myth 11: You can't exercise your abs during pregnancy. During the first 12 to 14 weeks of pregnancy, traditional abs exercises are safe to perform — and a good idea, considering a strong set of abs is your best defense against back pain, which plagues many pregnant woman as the due date nears. After the first trimester, lying flat on your back can cause the weight of your uterus to compress blood vessels, restricting circulation to you and your baby.

Pregnancy doesn't mean you have to put all of your fitness goals on the back burner, just be aware and conscious of your body's need while doing so. Don't listen to the endless myths, guidelines and rules will always differ based on each individual, stay informed and aware of your body's needs. 

I advise all of my prenatal clients to workout in the desired heart rate zones below : 

Modified Heart Rate Target Zones for Aerobic Exercise in Pregnancy

Maternal age

Heart rate target zone (beats/minute)

Less than 20 years

140 – 155

20 – 29 years

135 – 150

30 – 39 years

130 – 145

Over 40 years

125 – 140

Staying within these ranges will ensure that you are not overexerting yourself, while still getting the most out of your routine for exercise in pregnancy.