Those first moments when you first learned you were going to be a mom are unforgettable. As the knowledge sunk in, you probably began to wonder about the huge lifestyle changes you’d have to make.
Staying safe, comfortable and happy is top priority. Eating right, exercising, ensuring optimum weight gain would be the others on your list.
Above all, it’s also important to continue with as much of your regular routine as possible.
Something else you’ll have to contend with is loads of conflicting inputs and well-meaning tips from friends, family and the people you meet on your morning commute. While there is a lot of merit in experience and inherent wisdom, it’s also important to follow advice that’s based on science and medicine.
One area that’s fertile ground for contradictory views is exercise.
Is it safe to exercise? What kinds of workouts are recommended? Should the exercise routine vary as the pregnancy progresses? Is it OK to visit a gym or is it better to work out at home?
These are the questions that run through the mind as you contemplate the next nine months ahead of you. Remember that there are lots of options such as a convenient, home-based portable gym to help you get through this crucial period in life.
Exercising During Pregnancy
There are several changes that take place in the body as a result of pregnancy and its related hormones. For instance, the joints become more flexible. The center of gravity keeps shifting as the pregnancy advances. There is extra weight in the front of the body and the hip size expands. Any exercise that you plan to take up should keep these factors in mind.
If you led an active lifestyle before pregnancy, it’s important to continue with this with some modifications. If you’re an athlete or sportswoman, talk to your obstetrician before you undertake any exercise program after your pregnancy is confirmed. On the other hand, if you led a sedentary life before you became pregnant, consult your doctor and chalk out a regular, moderate exercise program, without any new or drastic changes.
Benefits of exercising during pregnancy include:
- Improvements in posture
- Decrease potential backaches and tiredness
- Staying fit and supple in preparation for labor
- Lifts the spirits and increases sense of happiness and well-being
- Can prevent gestational diabetes, premature birth, preeclampsia and excessive weight gain
- Relieves stress and tension by keeping the endorphins flowing
- Decrease risk of pregnancy complications
- Helps you to sleep better and longer
- Reduces risk of C-section birth
- Yoga and pilates help you to stay calm and breathe properly during labor
- Minimizes constipation and flatulence
Before you plan your exercise regimen it’s wise to have a detailed consultation with your obstetrician. He or she can give you the right advice on how much and when you should exercise, the safety precautions to take, and most importantly, how to listen to your body. The exercise routine should be in keeping with your age, weight and health history. Women with asthma, heart disease or severe diabetes should avoid exercise completely.
Women with other conditions such as weak cervix, spotting/bleeding, multiple birth gestation, placenta previa, or pregnancy-related hypertension must also refrain from exercising. Contact sports, scuba diving and high altitude sports are a strict no-no.
It’s important to never allow your heartbeat to cross 140 beats a minute. You also need to ensure that high impact aerobics and high movement dance steps are avoided. You can substitute with low impact aerobics, swimming, yoga and walking. Recommendations by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology advise that about half an hour of moderate exercise daily should be your target. Never lie on your back for too long, particularly after the first trimester, as you risk cutting the blood flow to the heart.
Ideally, you should be able to hold a normal conversation without getting breathless as you exercise. You will have to slow down and reduce the quality and quantity of exercise as the pregnancy advances, but being consistent with the routine goes a long way in keeping you fit and happy.
One of the best options is a home based portable gym. This allows you the freedom to exercise at your own pace, and in the comfort of your home.
What Are Portable Gyms?
Portable gyms or home gyms are compact and easy to move equipment. They also help you to take up different types of exercises in a single place and can easily fit into small spaces. You can make place for them in your basement, garage, patio or even a corner of a large bedroom.
The most common are the mid-range ones that usually include different options such as:
- Sitting/Reclining bench that is adjustable
- Selection of stacked metal weights
- Pulldown bars and press bars
- Leg extension and leg curl system for thigh muscles workouts
- Cable row seating system for back and arm exercises
This set is one that offers a comprehensive workout and you can have an additional range of different options based on your health status, pregnancy stage and personal preferences. For instance, you can add combinations of weight and strength training equipment such as dumbbells, steps, fitness ball, resistance bands and tubes, exercise mats, etc. There are significant price differences between these systems and you can select the one that best suits your budget.
How Portable Gyms Help During Pregnancy
Moderate and comfortable exercise during pregnancy helps you to adapt better as you gain weight and also change your body shape and center of gravity. Maintaining a regular exercise routine helps you to regain your body shape more quickly after delivery. The more active you are, the easier and shorter your labor will be, according to studies.
Investing in a portable gym is a smart move, because you can continue to use it for as long as you’re able during the pregnancy. Once baby is born, you’ll find it almost impossible to find time to exercise. If you have to travel to a gym, that means extra commute time, rushing back for a feed, plus worrying about whether all’s well at home. This is where the portable gym can really help you.
The best exercises during pregnancy that you can do with your portable gym are:
- Increasing stomach strength exercises to ease back pain
- gentle pelvic tilt
- mild pelvic floor exercises
- gentle cycling, avoiding inclines
- low level pilates for balance, strength, posture and flexibility
Ensure that you don’t exercise for more than 45 minutes in a single session. Warm up sufficiently before you start, and make sure that you don’t get over-heated or tired. Change your exercise routine according to the stage of pregnancy in consultation with your doctor.
Remember that you don’t have to exercise continuously. Instead you can stagger the sessions throughout the day. Shorter 10-minute routines are just as useful and perhaps easier on your body. You can combine these with other light activities such as vacuuming, gardening or walking down to the shops.
Tips For Healthier and Safer Exercising
Keep your portable gym clean and hygienic at all times. If you’re too tired after the exercise routine, make some other time to clean every part of it thoroughly before you use it again. If you share the equipment with other people in the family, ensure that it’s clean and fresh before you use it. Never share towels or mats.
Warm ups are crucial as they prevent injury and sudden changes to circulation and heart rate. Similarly, it’s important to cool down adequately to avoid the blood settling abruptly into the muscles. So take the time to start and stop gently.
If you’re already a gym enthusiast, curb your enthusiasm a bit and just make sure you’re able to maintain your current level of fitness. This is absolutely no time to take it to another level or try new stuff.
Certain moves such as deep back-bends, full leg lifts, double leg lifts, severe extension or flexing of joints, waist twisting, intense bursts of exercise, jumping and bouncing moves, and anything that pulls on the abdomen area must be avoided. If your routine includes floor exercises, make sure that you get up and sit down slowly, to avoid dizziness and losing balance.
Avoid steam rooms and saunas that can raise your body temperature. This is hazardous for the foetus, so if you live in a warm climate, try to exercise in an air-conditioned room.
Ensure that you stay well hydrated and eat a protein-carb snack before and after you complete your routine. Never eat while sitting on your portable gym. Make sure you sit in a comfortable and safe place. Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes in a breathable fabric. Supportive inner-wear and the right footwear are important to ensure comfort and safety.
Keep the routine as simple as possible. Know and understand all the capabilities of your portable gym before you start. This helps you to get the best from your investment. Try different routines every day to keep the motivation and interest levels high. When there are days that you find yourself just wanting to relax and watch TV or read a book, indulge your instincts. Listen to what your body tells you. Ultimately, you should feel good, energized and full of positive emotions when you’re done with your exercise routine.