Fitness and exercise are an important aspect of health. Many women feel that when they have conceived, they must “give up” this part of their life or that it is “too late” to get into shape. This is not the case at all, and while an exercise program must be tailored to the individual, overall women who exercise during pregnancy report a greater sense of health, a shorter labour, less pain during pregnancy, and less intervention during pregnancy and labour. There are safety precautions to be advised, and you should consult a professional trainer with experience in pregnancy.
Acute physiologic responses to exercise generally increase during gestation, however healthy women without contraindications (see below) are actually advised to exercise throughout the pregnancy. Most women can continue along with their normal routine with some modification to ensure the safety herself and her developing foetus. Do not increase the level of training or begin a new competitive sport, except in cases where the mother has not previously participated in general exercise. The program should begin at a level causing no pain, shortness of breath or excessive fatigue; it can then progress whilst avoiding significant discomfort.
In the third trimester, 300 additional calories are required each day, not including the caloric demands of exercising. It is important to stay adequately nourished and prevent maternal energy levels from slumping. Decreases in exercise performance at this stage are a common theme due to increasing weight and fatigue. If you have been exercising in the first two trimesters, you are less likely to report feeling lethargic and uncomfortable. Exercise tasks involving exceptional balance, extreme range of movement and sudden changes in body direction are best avoided.
As with any exercise regimen, exercising during gestation should be constructed upon the mother’s specific goals, physical condition and health status. Frequency should be at least three, and preferably all days of the week. A moderate intensity of 40-60% VO2 reserve, whereby the participant can maintain a conversation should be employed. The heart rate range for women 20-40years of age is 130-150beats per minute (keep the heart rate lower as age increases). The pregnant exerciser should aim for total of 150 minutes of exercise each week of dynamic, rhythmic physical activities that use the large muscle groups such as walking, swimming, yoga etc.
- Cardiac dysrhythmia
- Chronic bronchitis
- Extreme morbid obesity
- Extreme underweight
- Extremely sedentary lifestyle
- Intrauterine growth restriction
- Hypertension (not controlled)
- Hyperthyroidism (not controlled)
- Heart disease
- Lung disease
- Incompetent cervix
- Multiple gestation
- Persistent bleeding
- Placenta previa (>26 weeks)
- Ruptured membranes
- Preeclampsia/pregnancy induced hypertension
Suggested Cardio for third trimester mamas:
Go easy on yourself, rest when you need to. Otherwise continue cardio as in the second trimester. View cardio recommendations from trimester 2. Dont forget a great form of cardio around your due date to help bing on labour is getting steamy between the sheets!
Here are some suggested exercises and stretches for the third trimester:
Swiss Ball Push Up
On your knees in front of a SB, place the palms on the ball just wider than shoulder width. Your body should be in a straight line from knee to head. Bend at the elbows as you inhale, you may find this a bit shaky to begin with, and on your exhale straighten the arms.
Swiss Ball Plank Position 1
Swiss Ball Position 2
Clam With Extension Position 1
Lying on your side, bend your knees to 90-degrees. Keeping the hips still and using your thighs and glutes, separate the knees forming a diamond space, hold for a moment. From here, extend the leg, working through a turned out position, and hold. Return the feet, o the clam before returning the knee to rest.
Clam With Extension Position 2
Clam With Extension Position 3
Squat with Swiss Ball
Standing with feet hip-width apart and a light weight in each hand, the chest opens to the front with a neutral spine alignment. The knees should bend slightly to help stabalise the spine at the top of the exercise. Place ball at your back between you and the wall. Before beginning, ensure ball is stabalised. Bend the knees to at least 90-degrees as you inhale, making sure to hold your stomach to your spine so that the centre of gravity is maintained. To increase difficulty, hold for 30 seconds in the squat position.
Start by sitting in lotus position, feet touching, knees bent, sitting up tall through the spine. Lift one arm and exale as you reach toward the opposte side of the room, inhale to sit tall again. Repeat on both sides.
From the lotus position, extend one leg forward. With a tall spine and chest open walk your hands towards your flexed foot. Hold as far as you can stretch before repeating on the ther leg.
Kneel on the floor with toes touching and knees apart to accommodate a growing belly. Exhale and lay your torso down between your thighs. Lengthen from the tailbone up to the finger tips.
These are exercise suggestions. Always consult a physician or health care provider before beginning any exercise routine.
Sares is a Fitness Consultant for TBS and works as a personal trainer and nutrition consultant at a fitness center in Australia.
Read more from Sares on her blog: www.breathemovenourish.