Five essential exercises for pregnancy
Putting one foot in front of the other is an inexpensive, easy form of aerobic exercise — the kind that builds up your endurance and maintains heart and lung health. “A lot of people don’t think they’re being active when they’re walking, but it’s a marvelous aerobic activity,” says Michelle Mottola, associate professor of kinesiology and director of the R. Samuel McLaughlin Exercise and Pregnancy Laboratory at the University of Western Ontario in London. Walking is low impact, and therefore doesn’t over-tax joints that are already coping with extra weight and lax ligaments (pregnancy hormones make these tough fibres laxer than normal, which can make you vulnerable to injury from over-stretching when you bounce or quickly change direction). It can also help guard against excessive weight gain, and control or prevent gestational diabetes.
Another great thing about walking — chances are, you’ve been doing it most of your life, so you don’t need much instruction! Stroll for ten to 15 minutes to warm up, then pick up the pace until you feel you’re working “somewhat hard.” Aim for 15 minutes at this tempo to start, gradually adding about two minutes per week. Slow to a more leisurely amble for ten to 15 minutes while your muscles cool down. So how much and how often can you stride at this speed? As your caregiver for guidance: Some draw the line at 30 minutes five times a week, while others will okay a similar number of 45 to 60-minute sessions.
Wear supportive, shock-absorbing, properly fitted shoes to ease the stress on your knees, hips and back. Sip water before, during and after your walk, particularly in warm weather. Avoid extremes in temperature: Mall-walking is a terrific option when the streets are slippery, or the mercury and humidity are hovering at high levels.