How to Stay Fit When Pregnant

How to Stay Fit When Pregnant

It’s one of the happiest moments of every soon-to-be parent’s life: that moment when you first realize you’re going to be bringing a little you into the world – and then comes the planning.

Between baby books, baby-proofing the home, and making sure your diet is as healthy as can be for your little tummy bunny, it’s important not to forget to maintain your fitness routine.

However, you’re going to want to change things up a bit.

While exercise is important to sustain the health of you and your little one, it may be hard finding the motivation if you’re experiencing common pregnancy symptoms like exhaustion, nausea, swollen ankles or back pain.

The good news is, there are exercises that can help ease the extremity of some of these issues.

Aqua Fit

Before rolling your eyes at the thought of attending an Aqua Fit class, hear us out. Water exercises can be great for soon-to-be mamas because they are low impact and can help alleviate some of the added weight that brings on the aches and pains. Not only will you feel lighter, but you’ll get your cardio in without the high-intensity or added pressure on your ankles.

Find an Aqua Fit class near you here.

Yoga

Breathe in. Breathe out. Practice your breathing techniques before the big day arrives! Yoga classes are known for helping promote relaxation, improving balance and strengthening core muscles. Not only that, but according to an article1 published in WebMD research has shown that Yoga may even make labor shorter and more comfortable, and who wouldn’t want that?

!! FYI – Try to avoid hot yoga after your first trimester2, or laying on your back3, as the weight of the uterus can compress a major blood vessel, disrupting blood flow.

Indoor Cycling

Much safer than the outdoor alternative and a great way to get your heartbeat up and those calories burned! Another benefit of taking an indoor cycling class when pregnant is that you can go at your own pace, and when the belly starts growing, you can easily adjust the handles bars to make for an easier and more comfortable ride.

Walking

Let’s get back to the basics! Sometimes an exercise as seemingly simple as walking can work wonders for your body. The combination of fresh air, getting your daily steps in, and switching up the distance, incline, and pace of your walk is a great way to get in your cardio while not overexerting your body.

Another benefit of exercising while carrying your soon-to-be bundle of joy is the flow of endorphins! Exercise helps boost the body with “feel-good” chemicals like dopamine and serotonin and can help ease symptoms of depression and anxiety. Plus, exercise had been known to help improve self-esteem and can help you stay within a healthy weight gain limit while pregnant.


 

Here’s the Best Part

Research has shown that “healthy pregnant women who exercise during pregnancy may have less risk of preterm delivery and shorter labor, are less likely to need pain relief, and recover from childbirth faster.”6 We say those benefits alone make exercising during pregnancy worth it.

Stay healthy, mamas to be! We look forward to seeing you in the gym soon and wish you and your little one(s) a great start!

DID YOU KNOW?

Even though you may be feeling exhausted, exercise can help increase your energy and stamina. Sounds kind of counterintuitive, right? Well, living an active lifestyle helps the body get stronger and improves cardiovascular health, thus giving the body more stamina. When you feel better, you have more energy.


 

Here are some tips for having a safe workout:

  1. Whatever activity you choose, don’t overdo it. Listen to your body and rest if you feel tired. Any sharp, shooting or stabbing pain means you should stop. You should be able to carry on a conversation during any activity.
  2. Avoid dehydration by drinking extra water before, during, and after exercise.
  3. Eat plenty of food so that you don’t run low on glucose.
  4. Avoid overheating. During hot weather, exercise indoors and in an air-conditioned space.
  5. Avoid high-risk and contact sports; any activity where there’s a risk of falling or getting hit in the stomach. If you’re not sure whether something is safe or not, don’t do it.

 

We spoke with Dr. Rhonda Smalls, Chief of Service, Obstetrics and Gynecology, at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center, who helped offer some helpful advice for our pregnant moms-to-be out there.

Q: How does exercising impact both the mother-to-be and baby in a positive way?

 

Dr. Rhonda Smalls: Exercising during pregnancy can help the mother-to-be maintain muscle strength, avoid excess weight gain, lower the risk of certain pregnancy-related complications – gestational diabetes and preeclampsia – and shed unwanted pounds after the baby is born.  During pregnancy, the muscles in the lower abdomen, lower back, and around the birth canal come under great strain.  Moderate exercise helps reduce backaches, constipation and bloating.  It can also improve circulation and minimize swelling and prepares the body for labor and delivery.

 

Q: What are some exercises you would recommend for moms to be?

RS: Walking. It’s safe and easy for most women from the moment they find out they’re pregnant until the final weeks. I encourage expecting moms to sneak in some extra steps into their day by parking their car at the far end of the lot or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.  Remember to use the handrail when walking up or downstairs.

Swimming or water aerobics. Both are gentle on the joints and provide a feeling of weightlessness (a welcome break in the later months of pregnancy).

Stretching or yoga. Stretching eases back pain and helps maintain flexibility, while yoga can help expecting moms better cope with everyday stress.  Look for prenatal yoga classes or videos designed for pregnant women.

Low-impact dance or aerobics. Moving to music is fun for moms.  Be careful when doing movements that require balance like jumps, kicks, leaps, and bouncing.

 

Q: Are there varying degrees of exercise difficulty that pregnant women can participate in depending on the trimester they’re in?

 

RS: First and foremost, it’s important that all pregnant women check with their primary obstetric provider before starting any exercise routine. If they’re already physically active most days, great! If not, this is a good time to start. Begin slowly, build up gradually, and try to exercise at least 30 minutes per day.

During the first trimester, pregnant women should be able to continue their exercise routine as long as they’re having a normal, healthy pregnancy.  I encourage expecting moms to try a combination of aerobic, strength, and flexibility exercises.

During the second and third trimester, most women will have to vary their routine slightly.

 

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet (particularly when pregnant), make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Sources:

  1. “Safe Exercise During Pregnancy: Running, Weights, & More in Pictures.” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/baby/ss/slideshow-pregnancy-fitness-moves.
  2. Ibid
  3. “Can I Still Sleep on My Back While I’m Pregnant?” Parents, Parents, 18 Sept. 2015, www.parents.com/advice/pregnancy-birth/my-pregnant-body/can-i-still-sleep-on-my-back-while-im-pregnant/.
  4. “Safe Exercise During Pregnancy: Running, Weights, & More in Pictures.” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/baby/ss/slideshow-pregnancy-fitness-moves.
  5. BabyCenter Medical Advisory Board. “Great Pregnancy Exercise: Weight Training.”BabyCenter, 9 Mar. 2018, www.babycenter.com/0_great-pregnancy-exercise-weight-training_7878.bc.

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Member Spotlight | From Broken Foot to Completing the Chicago Marathon

Member Spotlight | From Broken Foot to Completing the Chicago Marathon

At the young age of 29, Lewis C., of Atlanta, GA, feared he may never walk properly again. After a tough tumble down a flight of stairs, Lewis was confined to crutches for a week and a boot for 7 weeks, after learning he had broken his fifth metatarsal in his right foot. He was unable to walk, let alone work out. Being confined to having his foot elevated 12 hours a day, Lewis was quickly gaining weight and noticed his overall demeanor began to change. It was a long, and rough, 7 weeks.

Maybe it was being confined indoors, maybe it was the lack of exercise– whatever it was, something ignited in Lewis over these 7 weeks. With a broken foot, and a rough recovery, Lewis decided he was going to run the Chicago Marathon in celebration of his 30th birthday. Lewis was determined to not let the injury define him or make him lose sight of his fitness goals. After all, he had always been committed to fitness in his adult life and was active in sports like swimming and track when in high school.

The Training Begins

After a sufficient recovery period, Lewis began his training program in June of 2017, five months after his foot injury had occurred. Lewis  knew he needed a place to train and realized the incredible resources offered at his local LA Fitness. With the proper equipment he was able to condition his legs, core and overall body for the race. He paired indoor and outdoor running, along with the assistance of his LA Fitness coach, Lisa, and was able to get the job done in an unbelievable 18 week training period.

Lewis successfully crossed the finish line in Chicago, Illinois, on October 9th 2017.


An Interview with: Lewis C.

Q: Have you always been in shape? 

Lewis C.: Like most people I have had weight fluctuations due to inconsistent eating habits brought on by a job in the airline industry with variable hours. Since 2007, I had more or less worked out 5-6 days a week and do my best to take protein supplements regularly. It’s what keeps me sane, I have to get a workout in and LA Fitness has been the best gym experience I have had since I joined in 2016. I have been to and worked at many other health clubs and the resources included in the LA Fitness membership are vast. I didn’t know it until I really needed people to help me execute the extensive cardio conditioning required for training for your first marathon at age 29.

Q: Have you learned anything about yourself since joining LA Fitness?

LC: Yes. That it’s OK to not know something and ask somebody for help. LA Fitness has staff and members from all walks of the active world: former athletes, current ones, trainers, beginners, body builders, etc. that all have a perspective and voice you can use as a resource and pool to get new fitness ideas, completely change your life, and smash the snot out of goals you never thought possible. I never dreamed I would actually go through with running the Chicago Marathon last October until I finally just paid the registration and bought marathoner shoes.

Also, I think people think running a marathon is an individual sport. It is really a team sport, which I learned, as I had to rely and lean on all different perspectives and advice and change my way of thinking. That’s where LA Fitness is more than just a gym to me; it’s a blackboard where new and dynamic fitness goals are conceived and executed.

Q: How has living an active lifestyle changed your life?

LC: I have had great health and happiness in my 30 years, which I think is primarily due to my staying active. I am the kind of person who needs structure and a tangible goal to reach and a place where I can ask questions of like-minded people. My father always taught me “to be one, ask one”. This is where the structured training plan of a marathon challenged me and a place like LA Fitness nurtured my curiosity and helped shepherd me through the process.


Future Goals

Lewis is back to training 6 days a week in an effort to be in his best shape by summer 2018. With travelling also on the horizon for Lewis, including a trip to Budapest in May, and Shanghai in July, with his best friend Michael, Lewis joked that since he’ll be in a lot of pictures he looks to “LA Fitness to keep [him] camera ready 24/7.”

Lewis’ next big fitness goal is to complete an Ironman race by his 40th birthday.

A Special Message 

Lewis would like to recognize his LA Fitness trainer Lisa, and member services representative, Yolanda, who Lewis credits as the reason he joined LA Fitness.

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Member responses have been edited for length and clarity.


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Understanding Functional Fitness

Understanding Functional Fitness

What is Functional Fitness?

Cardio and strength training usually dominate fitness talk, but what about the often-overlooked concept of functional fitness? At its core, functional fitness is really about focusing on building your body so that it can better handle everyday tasks such as bending over to tie your shoes, playing catch with your dog, or chasing after your kids without the added exhaustion, aches or pains.

Real Life Samples

Let’s think about this from a practical standpoint. Our daily habits cause us to turn, twist, bend, climb and lean to get things done. We’re using our whole bodies, so why not focus on exercises that use multiple muscle groups? Isolated weight training is great, but it doesn’t always help prevent strained backs or pulled muscles.

Exercises like kettlebell squats are a great way to stimulate a real-life scenario – you’re bending down (squatting) using your lower body, and at the same time picking something up (great with the added weight of the kettlebell) using your upper body. Try forward lunges with a twist to help work the lower body, upper body and help stabilize the core. Bent over rows can also help with upper and lower body strength. Bosu balls can also help aid in stability training!

Think about which muscle groups are actively being engaged when performing your desired exercise. If it feels like a move that mirrors real life movements, most likely you’re engaging in functional fitness.

The Benefits

To put it simply – fewer aches and pains! Less strain on your body, less worries about not being able to perform day-to-day activities and more confidence in moving around with a stronger body. If this all sounds like what regular or “normal” exercise does to improve the body, you’re right… sort of.

Functional fitness focuses on movements, rather than muscles.1 In your ordinary day-to-day routine, chances are you’re not doing an activity that focuses on the same muscle repeatedly. Think of lifting a semi-heavy grocery bag, similar to a bicep curl. Sure, you may do this a few times, but realistically you’re not going to be standing in your kitchen doing biceps curls with your grocery bags.

Depending on age and activity level of your life, the functional fitness exercises you’ll want to focus on will vary. If you’re uncertain what’s right for you or where to begin with this type of training, reach out to a representative in the personal training department.

Another alternative is sending your fitness related question to us for a chance for it to be one of our featured ‘Ask A Trainer’ questions on our LA Fitness YouTube channel or Living Healthy blog!

A better life starts with a decision that you deserve more for yourself. LA Fitness is here to help, and functional fitness is a great way to begin your training for the everyday!

Sources:

  1. Roberts, | BY: Amy, and Amy Roberts. “What Is Functional Training and How Can It Benefit You?” The Beachbody Blog, 20 July 2017, www.beachbodyondemand.com/blog/functional-training-benefits.

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