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Should you exercise when you are pregnant in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah or RAK? Most women can exercise with caution.
For the vast majority of pregnant women in the UAE there should be no issues with training and exercising with moderation during their first, second and third trimester.
In fact exercise is seen by professionals as being beneficial to both mother and baby.
There are of course restrictions on the type of exercise and workout routines that women should do and all should be done with caution.
Exercising and keeping fit from the first trimester is a great way to ensure mothers-to-be stay fit, healthy and in shape during their entire pregnancy. Exercise and training during the second and third trimesters too is also beneficial and can even help with delivery.
What exercises a pregnant woman can do in her first trimester solely depends on how she feels and her fitness level pre-pregnancy’s.
If she feels great and is used to exercising, she won’t need to make any adjustments to her training.
Apart from maybe lowering the training intensity on days when she feels more tired.
A general rule is to only work out at about 70% of your maximal capacity during pregnancy according to most experts. It is also highly recommended that pregnant women start doing core exercises and pelvic floor exercises as early as possible in their pregnancy for maximum benefit.
In the first trimester there are few types of exercises, workouts or specific exercise positions to avoid in general.
If you feel any discomfort in an exercise, it is recommended that you stop immediately and avoid that exercise if it continues to cause discomfort.
Deep stretches should be avoided. Exercises in hot conditions (including hot yoga), heavy standing exercises where the legs don’t move. Back bends and ab exercises such as crunches and sit ups should also be avoided.
Back bends and sit ups are not unsafe in the first trimester, but generally take them out from the beginning to practice pregnancy-safe core exercises and avoid unnecessary stretching of the linea alba.
For ladies in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah or RAK who didn’t exercise before pregnancy avoid high intense training, jumping and running.
This is mainly because the levels of the hormone relaxin in the body considerably rises during pregnancy.
Relaxin helps with vaginal delivery, but in the mean time, the ligaments in the body will all become more elastic and less stable, increasing the risk of injury.
Like first trimester exercises the types of exercise you can do during the second trimester of your pregnancy depends on the individual.
For women with no pregnancy-related pain, cardiovascular exercises such as walking and biking are great.
The same applies for variations of planks, although avoiding fully horizontal planks on the toes from the 2nd trimester is recommended due to the strain on the abdominal wall.
Incline planks are generally more comfortable than horizontal planks after the 2nd trimester, and can be done all the way throughout pregnancy.
Squats, seated rows , presses and lunges are all great exercises to do In your 2nd trimester, though some experience pain in the pelvis when doing lunges so avoid if your body is telling you to stop.
If you were running before your pregnancy or running in your first trimester, you can probably continue running in your second trimester but the same advice applies to all training – listen to your body and if you feel pain or discomfort stop.
If you have access to a gym then cables will be your new best friend. This allows you to position yourself standing or sitting in the most comfortable way without restrictions on machine size or unsuitable seats or parts of the machine getting in the way of the bump!
Otherwise a resistance band can have the same effect.
Cable chest press: A good upper body workout to strengthen arms and chest. This builds up strength to help with carrying the baby when it arrives.
This is a compound exercise working multiple muscles and the stability muscles will also be forced to work.
Cable seated row: Excellent for upper back. Upper back work is really important to help correct the kyphosis (increased rounding of the shoulders and upper back) that can occur during pregnancy.
Squats: A big energy burner, helps with circulation to reduce swelling and muscle cramps in legs.
Builds strength and stability to help the body cope with the increased weight load.
Remember – Always Listen To Your Body – Stop If It Doesn’t Feel Right
Recumbent bike: In the third trimester running or impact exercises become more and more difficult.
It’s safer to switch to lower impact exercises where you are supported to avoid injury as the ligaments, tendons and muscles become less supportive due to the hormone relaxin.
This way you can still get your cardio in which is beneficial for cardiovascular health and stress relief as well as helping to reduce swelling and muscle pain.
Leaning dumbbell row: Strengthens the back and arms. Improves posture and can relieve upper back pain by balancing out the load shared between upper and lower traps.
Bicep curl: Bicep curls with dumbbells tone and strengthen arms which again will help with carrying the baby.
Do both hammer grip (palms facing each other) and supine grip (palms facing up) to make sure you fatigue all parts of the muscle.
Tricep extensions: Best to do with dumbells while leaning forward slightly, these strengthen the triceps.
Lat raises: Standing or seated these strengthen shoulders and arms.
All these exercises should be slow and controlled movements breathing out with the exertion.
Two to three sets and a higher rep range of 15-20 reps is generally advised to ensure good form and not to over-tax the muscles, ligaments or tendons which will now be more flexible and less stable at this point due to the hormone relaxin.
Woodchop: Core work can be difficult especially towards the end of pregnancy but is still very important to include as a strong well-functioning core can even help make for an easier labour.
This can be done with a cable or a resistance band and works the main abs (the 6 pack) and the obliques as well as helping to stabilise the pelvis. Pull the cable or band in line with the chest from one side to the other.
Hover: Strengthens all layers of the abdominals. Start on all fours and then lift the hips higher so the knees are just off the floor.
Focus on the lower back and trying to lift it up out of the lumbar curve to as straight as you can.
The third trimester of your pregnancy means you are moving close to delivery and as such your body will tire more easily, the weight you have gained will make it hard to do some exercises and you need to consider safety for you and your baby.
High impact exercises such as jumping or running should be avoided as the hormone relaxin which is important to get mothers through labour is already working.
This means ligaments, tendons and muscles are not as stable as they were previously.
For someone who hasn’t previously trained before or is unconditioned the risk of injury is higher.
Single leg exercises can put uneven strain on the pelvis and can affect balance as anyway the centre of gravity has now changed due to the weight of the growing baby.
Prone or Supine work this is where you lie either on the back or on the stomach. You cannot lie on the stomach for obvious reasons such as the bump but also lying on the back should also be avoided.
The weight of the baby can press on the vena cava restricting blood flow back to the heart.
Lower back exercises. The lower back is already in constant extension with the weight of the growing baby.
There is no need to add any additional pressure to this already overloaded area in the third trimester.
No breath holding. All exercises should be focusing on technique with a lighter load and more repetitions. This should ensure safe stable exercises with no need to hold the breath at any point.
Avoid overhead work due to blood pressure and excess strain on the lower back which is already tight due to postural changes.
If you need help or advice about any form of prenatal exercises always use a personal fitness coach who is qualified and experience in providing pregnancy training for ladies in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah or RAK
Training during all trimesters of your pregnancy is safe as long as you get prior medical advice and use the services of a fitness coach who is qualified and specialised in pre natal training. Some tips for training when pregnant are: