One of the first things some of my friends said to me when I told them I was pregnant was ‘you’re not going to keep going to the gym now are you? Lifting weights can be dangerous’. Now, as much as I love my friends and know they have my best interests at heart, I also know this is a common misconception people have about pregnant women and the gym!
I’ve been a regular at the gym for about 8 years now… and have been lifting moderately heavy weights for about 5 or so years. And – I love it. I love the feeling that lifting heavy weights gives me, the sense of empowerment, and the way it changed my body.
And so, on finding out I was pregnant – the last thing I was planning on doing was giving up the gym!
Studies show a number of benefits for exercises (and in particular strength, or resistance training), during pregnancy. These include improved weight management, reduced incidence of gestational diabetes, enhanced body image (we need all the help we can get when we’re already feeling like beached whales!), improved mood and psychological wellbeing, and even potential improved fetal development!
In saying that, yes I did get medical clearance from my GP and my Obstetrician before I continued at the gym. And I also modified my routine – reducing the weight I had been lifting, changing the types of exercises I perform and really listening to my body. There have been some days during my first trimester that I just couldn’t get the energy to train at the gym, so I didn’t.
So, some things to remember:
- When pregnant our bodies secrete a hormone (Relaxin) that causes makes joints less stable and may increase the risk of injury.
- Lifting weights that are TOO heavy with poor form can increase the risk of injury, due to joints being less stable. So we need to make sure our form is correct.
- Strength training can increase the connective tissue strength (what holds the joints together) however, which adds another benefit.
- As your pregnancy progresses, your centre of mass changes (i.e you have a watermelon at the front of your body). This can affect posture, balance and control so keep this in mind.
- Remember to stay well hydrated, and only exercise to a moderate intensity.
Maintaining my strength is really important to me, and the gym is a big part of who I am – it’s also an activity my partner and I enjoy together. And as a physiotherapist who works with kids – being active and strong is also important for my job! There’s lots of information out there, from some great sources, on the importance of exercise during pregnancy.
So to those Mummas out there who have been worried about continuing (or even starting) with your gym work or even any other forms of exercise – please see your Specialist/GP for clearance and consider keeping it up! There are some contraindications (medical reasons for not exercising), so as long as you’re at low risk, you should be good to go 🙂
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