Read the previous part of this series here.
Changes associated with pregnancy
- Hormones such as relaxin loosen ligaments which could increase your risk of joint injuries (for example, sprains).
- As pregnancy progresses, weight increase combines with changes in weight distribution and body shape. This results in the body’s centre of gravity moving forward, which can alter balance and coordination.
- Pregnancy increases your resting heart rate, so it is not recommended to use target heart rate to work out the intensity of your exercise. In healthy pregnant women, exercise intensity can be monitored using a method known as Borg’s Rating of Perceived Exertion Scale (RPE). This measures how hard you feel (perceive) your body is working.
- Your blood pressure drops in the second trimester, so it is important to avoid rapid changes of position – from lying to standing, and vice versa – so as not to experience dizzy spells.
General exercise suggestions during pregnancy
- Engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (according to the Perceived Exertion Scale) on most, if not all, days of the week.
- Do no more than three sessions per week of vigorous exercise by the third trimester.
- Let your body be your guide. You know you’re at a good intensity when you can talk normally and not become exhausted too quickly.
- Be guided by your doctor, physiotherapist or health care professional.
Suggested exercise activities during pregnancy
- Cycling – outdoors or on a stationary bicycle
- Exercise in water (aquarobics)
- Dancing (this was my favorite activity)
- Pregnancy exercise classes (they help the most because you get expert advise and exchange experience with other pregnant women)