Pregnancy exercise: 5 things you should remember

By Estelle Low   — March 28, 2017
  • 1 / 7

    When it comes to the topic of working out during pregnancy, the jury is split. Some say it’s best to avoid exercising altogether, while others say exercise is essential for a healthy pregnancy and delivery.

    During my recent pregnancy, I had a taste of this conundrum when well-meaning relatives warned me against exercising – “Rest as much as you can!” – for fear that increased physical activity would cause harm to my foetus.

    On the other hand, my doctor was nonchalant: “So long as you feel well, you can continue doing yoga and swimming, but try not to run.”


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  • 2 / 7

    Given that I had no pre-existing health issues or pregnancy complications, I carried on with my weekly workouts of yoga, swimming and jogging. I was determined to stay fit for my sake and my baby’s.

    Among the many benefits of prenatal exercise: controlled weight gain, reduced fatigue and risk of depression, better sleep and easier labour.

    Swimming while pregnant didn’t feel that much different, thankfully. As for running, I reduced my mileage and speed, eventually slowing down to brisk walks as my tummy grew.

    The biggest changes, however, were to my yoga routine. Carrying a fragile foetus meant I didn’t want to risk falling or put unnecessary pressure on my womb, so I avoided certain poses and modified others.

    Related: 5 easy pregnancy stretching exercises to ease pain

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  • Think prenatal yoga and pilates
    3 / 7 Think prenatal yoga and pilates

    In the early months, you may feel well enough to do most yoga poses. But as your tummy gets bigger, avoid forward bends, backbends, inversions and poses that involve compressing or lying on your tummy.

    From the second trimester onwards, it’s advisable to join prenatal yoga classes, such as those at True Yoga, Pure Yoga and Space & Light Yoga. The poses are modified for pregnant women.

    As for pilates, the prenatal classes at Powermoves Pilates in the Park, Breathe Pilates and Focus Pilates are well structured.

    The instructors can customise a workout, so alert them to any pregnancy issues before starting classes. Attending group classes means you get a chance to bond with other mums-to-be, too.

    Related: Pregnancy exercise: 4 easy aerobics workouts

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  • Swim to soothe aches
    4 / 7 Swim to soothe aches

    Love the weightless feeling of being in the water? You’ll love swimming even more when you’re pregnant and sweaty all the time.

    This low-impact sport does wonders to soothe achy backs and pelvic joints. Plus, it gives a great cardio workout.

    In this humid climate, every pool session will feel like heaven.


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  • Running and other high-impact exercises
    5 / 7 Running and other high-impact exercises

    Experts seem to be split on this, with some giving the green light to continue running as long as you feel fine, and others advising against it.

    Running could pose risks to your pregnancy, so check with your doctor before resuming your runs. The same applies for other high-impact activities like zumba and kickboxing.

    A safe alternative would be to use the elliptical as it takes the weight off your joints.

    Related: 6 months pregnant, 10km run: she did it

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  • Choose spinning over cycling
    6 / 7 Choose spinning over cycling

    As you gain weight, your balance will be compromised, and could increase your risk of falling.

    If you must ride, go slow and stick to bicycle lanes. Otherwise, choose spinning.

    The bike’s handle bars can help stabilise you as your belly starts to throw off your sense of balance.

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  • Avoid racquet games
    7 / 7 Avoid racquet games

    As tennis, squash and the like involve sudden, sharp movements and dashing about, it’s best to avoid playing them.

    With a flying ball, you also risk getting hit in the stomach. It happened to me once – ouch!

    A version of this article first appeared in Shape.


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