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For mothers-to-be

Always start your session with a warm-up and end it with a cool-down.  

While morning sickness, weight gain and fatigue may make you feel like skipping your exercise session — a mild to moderate programme will strengthen your body, enable you to cope better with weight gain and de-stress. Remember, exercise recommendations during pregnancy must be discussed with your gynaecologist.

Always start your session with a warm-up and end it with a cool-down.

A warm-up prepares the body for the activity to follow. Muscles perform better and are less prone to injury when they are warm. A warm-up can mean simply walking or marching for 10 minutes to raise the body's core temperature.

A cool-down lowers the body's temperature, gradually. This prevents dizziness and extreme fatigue post-workouts. Suddenly stopping without cooling down can result in a rapid drop in blood pressure and light-headedness. The last 10 minutes of the workout should be cool-down time. This allows the blood to return from the working muscles to the heart and for the body to return to its resting state.

What kind of exercises are safe during pregnancy?

Do low-impact exercises and include breathing exercises to relax the mind. Low-impact exercises such as swimming or cycling or walking are safe; high impact exercises such as skipping and jumping must be avoided.

Do not begin a vigorous exercise programme during pregnancy. Stop exercising when fatigued and do not exercise to exhaustion.

Do you know?

As pregnancy progresses the heart is less able to adapt to the increased demands of high intensity exercise, also with the release of the hormone relaxin, the joints become looser; increasing the risk of injury during exercise.

Can exercise help relieve discomfort experienced during pregnancy?

Yes. Being active during your pregnancy can help reduce physical discomfort such as backache and fatigue. Exercise can also improve your mood and induce sound sleep.

If you have never exercised before, what precautions should you take?

As long as you get the go-ahead from your doctor, you can do low-impact exercises. You could also join a specific pregnancy or prenatal exercise class if suggested by your doctor.

How will you know if you are exercising too much?

Too much, too fast, too soon are the main causes of over-exertion. Your objective should be to exercise without over-training or over-straining. In general, you shouldn't exercise to exhaustion. Listen to your body

and stop exercising if you feel you are exercising too much. A good rule of thumb is to slow down if you can't comfortably carry on a conversation while exercising.

Caution: Remember to stop exercise if you experience any pain, bleeding, dizziness, shortness of breath, palpitations, faintness, extreme back pain, pubic pain or difficulty in walking.

How often should you exercise?

Exercise may be performed five to seven times a week for duration of 30 to 40 minutes, at low to moderate intensity. Your exercise intensity can range between 45 to 70 per cent of your target heart rate depending on your age, fitness level and medical history.

What are the specific exercise cautions during pregnancy?

* Avoid exercising while lying on your back. Such a position is associated with decreased cardiac out-put in pregnant women.

* Avoid abdominal exercises. Any kind of exercise where there's a risk of even mild abdominal trauma should be avoided.

* Avoid overstretching — women are more flexible during this period.

* Use light weights. Weight training with light weights is safe; avoid lifting heavy weights during this period.

* Stay hydrated. Water loss due to perspiration and sweating needs to be replaced. Drink plenty of water before, after and during an exercise routine to prevent dehydration.

* Do focus on form and technique. Right form and technique protect the joints and safeguard the body from exercise trauma; whereas wrong technique or jerky movements can cause injury. It is essential to focus on posture and keeping your body properly aligned while exercising.

* Get adequate rest. Rest plays an important role in formulating effective training sessions. It helps the muscles to recuperate from the stresses of exercises and helps the body get rid of fatigue and muscular exhaustion. Especially while weight training, the muscles need at least 48 hours of rest in between workouts sessions to recover and recuperate.

The writer is a certified Clinical Exercise Specialist, Lifestyle and Weight Management Specialist.

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2021 3:41:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/For-mothers-to-be/article16205047.ece

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