Top 5 exercise dos and don'ts
You want to do the best you can for you and your growing baby, but you've been bombarded with mixed messages. What exercises can you do? Should you stretch? We've simplified it for you.

Exercise dos

1. Warm up and cool down

A proper warm-up is essential in any training routine. Not only does it help prepare the body for all the stressors associated with training, but it also helps prevent injury. Muscles that are warmed up help improve the effectiveness of your training session.

2. Drink enough water

Keeping hydrated ensures that you keep your body temperature stable. It also reduces the onset of cramps and keep's the body's cooling system running adequately. Replacing lost fluids is important, as it helps keep your electrolyte balance in check. Research suggests that drinking enough water helps fight pregnancy fatigue and also helps aid circulation, which in turn prevents swollen feet.

3. Kegel exercises

These exercises will make giving birth easier and also ensure a speedier recovery afterwards. If you undergo a c-section, having a strong core will be very beneficial in helping you return to normal pre-pregnancy activities. Doing a pregnancy based Pilates class a few times per week is great. 

4. Breathe correctly

Breathing correctly during muscle contraction is necessary to prevent your blood pressure from escalating. It also helps reduce dizziness and muscular cramping, due to lack of oxygen. You should exhale on the hardest part of the exercise. So, if you are lifting weights, exhale as you lift the weight and inhale when dropping the weight.

5. Adjust your expectations

Your baby's health is your main priority. Expect slower gains than normal. As your body's condition is being altered, your training expectations should change. Always check with your doctor if the exercise you are doing is suitable.

Exercise don'ts

1. Don't exercise in hot, humid conditions

Your body temperature should never get too high. Exercise dramatically increases body temperature. It is important that you don't do outdoor training between 11am and 3pm. Try do do walks in the mornings or evenings. Otherwise, try to do all your training in a temperature controlled environment. Remember to keep training sessions to a maximum of 45 minutes at a time - to prevent injury and to keep body temperature at safe levels. 

2. No jerky movements

During pregnancy your joints are less stable and your ligaments become more flexible. This could lead to problems when doing exercises. Jerking movements are dangerous, not only because you open yourself up to injury but they also place the amniotic sac under unnecessary pressure. Make sure that movements are slow and controlled.

3. No heavy weights

You should not work out with heavy weights (light weights are fine). Focus on core strength and toning exercises. Lifting weights that are too heavy will make you more prone to injury and place you and your unborn baby at unnecessary risk. Your blood pressure could also escalate. Other exercises to avoid are contact sports, mountain biking, kick boxing, Zumba and horse riding.

4. Don't exercise to exhaustion

Training to full exhaustion while pregnant is not a good idea. You will place your body under unnecessary strain and your body will take a lot longer to recover. Stop exercising if you're in pain, feel dizzy or are short of breath.

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