How are Olympic athletes and expecting mothers similar? They both need to train! Respected and leading UK fitness expert Amanda Hargreaves shares 10 reasons why expecting moms need to exercise.
The Olympics are in full swing in Great Britain, which encourages couch surfing as well as the inspiration to get moving, get fit and get strong! Amanda Hargreaves, a leading fitness expert in the UK, suggests that, as much as any other, motherhood is a sport to be reckoned with and trained for! Most women are concerned about excessive weight gain during pregnancy. Others are proactive about doing activities like yoga to relax their body and mind. Amanda looks at women planning pregnancy, carrying a baby, giving birth and caring for a baby as athletes who should train for best results.
1. The number one reason why women have difficulties in childbirth and recovery is that they are too often lacking whole body strength going into their pregnancy, which can lead to a difficult delivery and a long struggle to get back to their original weight and shape after delivery. Delaying a focus on whole body strength and fitness until the postnatal stage makes recovery twice as tough.
2. Having a strong body promotes a strong mind to deal with labor, and as with any athlete, a strong fit body will give mom the endurance to handle a lengthy labor.
3. Strength training prepares and strengthens muscles for effective pushing in labor.
4. Working and strengthening the back greatly lowers back fatigue and pain. Taking care of the back should be a high priority and prepares for the added stress of carrying baby while performing everyday chores.
5. In addition to strengthening the back, performing strength training and cardio for endurance will help combat some common ailments of pregnancy such as: gaining weight, tiredness and swelling, while women who are fit and healthy during their pregnancy have less chance of accumulating fat.
6. Core strength is vital, but whole body strength training is important for all areas, as it leads to “muscle memory” that dramatically speeds up the process of getting back into shape after childbirth:
- Working and strengthening the legs is vital to give greater stability and decrease the risk of falls enabling women to be more active during pregnancy and postnatal periods.
- Doing abdominal strengthening pre-pregnancy drastically decreases the time it takes to get a flat fit looking belly back after childbirth, due to muscle memory.
- Working the arms will give a toned look and enhances the strength and endurance for later stages of pregnancy, for going up and down stairs, carrying kids while shopping and picking up!
7. Strength training is great for pregnant women who must avoid anything that's high intensity, to avoid overheating and getting the heart rate too high.
8. Walking during pregnancy is vital—it's natural and relaxing for the body, provides a great cardio workout, is easy on joints and muscles and helps heart and lungs.
9. Separation of the rectus muscle starts around the middle of the second trimester to accommodate baby's growth, so women with poor muscle tone are at greater risk. Becoming pregnant while strong (toned abdominals) will facilitate a rapid recovery and minimize complications—and bring back that flat belly quickly!
10. Of course, having a new baby is an endurance sport too! Being in shape is critical to taking the best care of your new baby with the greatest ease and enjoyment. Best of all, the benefits of a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy include a healthier child, and if continued, a child who will mimic the habits of their healthy parents!
For more information including her full, free slate of workouts and videos, all of which can be done at home, visit Amanda Hargreaves' website.
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