Our co-founder, Justine Sharifi is a newly expectant mother, and you may have seen her being a total badass handling business per usual at the gym, directing the build-out of our second location, and even boxing with one of our pro boxers, RJ! I've been training her for the past few months, and I wanted to answer a few questions about exercising while pregnant for other expectant mothers.
Is it safe to exercise while pregnant?
Yes, in most cases.
You should always check with your doctor, but if you were active before being pregnant, then you should be alright to carry on with physical activity. In fact, it’s usually recommended that pregnant women do at least some form of physical activity for at least 30 minutes per day. Of course, goals will change when you’re pregnant, so it’s important to keep in mind that the focus of your exercise will need to shift from aesthetic, fat loss, etc. to your individual needs while pregnant.
What types of exercise are best?
As far as exercise selection goes, choose exercises that are:
- Low impact (to minimize joint stress)
- Low to moderate intensity (due to the fact that your heart rate and body temperature are already elevated from pregnancy)
- Resistance-based, aerobic, or a mix of both.
- A couple of notes:
- Resistance training should focus on spine support and addressing low back pain by strengthening the hips.
- Avoid exercises that keep you in a supine position (on your back) for long periods of time.
- Limit static stretching (i.e. yoga - instead, look for prenatal yoga).
- A couple of notes:
Due to the changes your body’s going through, you have to take into consideration the extra stress to your body added by exercise and hormonal changes. For example, an increase in the hormone relaxin is to be expected, which is secreted to relax the ligaments down below, the uterus, and the cervix to prepare your body for child development and labor. However, the increased relaxin levels will also affect other parts of your body, such as the muscles preventing stomach acid from coming back up, which can lead to heartburn. Further, you’ll have to keep physical activity at a low to moderate intensity because your body is already stressed and working hard to create another human.
What are the benefits of exercising as an expectant mother?
- Stress control/relief
- Maternal muscle strength (pelvic floor strengthening)
- Helps with urinary inconsistency
- Weight control (pre- to post- pregnancy)
Don’t be afraid to exercise, but don’t over-do it! Always be sure to get your doctor’s approval before starting an exercise routine. Do things that will complement this significant change to your body and to your life, and do things that will make this experience the best that it can be.