During pregnancy: nothing, go, work your strength…

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These are the most suitable and beneficial exercises for that stage

Marta Fdez Vallejo

Four days a week Estíbaliz Castañón practices crossfit, a normal routine in this demanding sport if it weren’t for the fact that this 35-year-old nurse from Biscay is in her 32nd week of pregnancy. She is an example that sports women no longer take a break during pregnancy because physical exercise, far from being harmful, has proven to be a great ally for health during that stage. She helps prevent hypertension and gestational diabetes, allows weight control and improves delivery conditions, experts point out. Of course, always with the control of the doctors and adapting the exercise to each woman and stage of pregnancy.

This young woman from Getxo did not hesitate to continue with crossfit, a modality that she has been practicing for six years, with the approval of her gynecologist and adjusting her training plan. “During pregnancy, the right thing to do is continue with the sport you are used to. You just have to listen to your body and apply common sense. She now lifts weights with 50% less load, monitors her heart rate, avoids hitting the ground and does not do exercises that involve abdominal support. She emphasizes that her strength work will allow her to “arrive better prepared for childbirth” and recover before it.

It is not about practicing crossfit during pregnancy, “nor is it the time for sedentary women to start doing sports compulsively,” warns Alberto García Bataller, doctor of Physical Activity and Sports Sciences, but it is necessary to maintain “a certain type of physical activity appropriate to your pregnancy and previous activity”. There are some recommended sports for this stage. “Walking is an excellent exercise, and the most suitable if the woman is sedentary before pregnancy, as is the exercise bike, which also has an advantage: it takes away part of our body weight,” says the author of ‘Mujeres en fit ‘.

Swimming is considered the star activity in pregnancy. “It works many muscle groups of both the lower and upper body, it is done with less body weight due to the effect of floating water, it has no impact on the joints and it allows you to exercise on your back,” says the physical trainer. He makes two warnings: from the second trimester it is necessary to avoid turning to turn around in the croll, the butterfly style is also discouraged and apneas and dives standing up and headfirst are not recommended either.

Pelvic floor work

Strength training must be part of routines, adapted “to the circumstances of pregnancy and the characteristics of each woman,” adds the expert. “In the third trimester, it is essential to include strength exercises in the legs, feet and posture of the back to prevent falls and help the woman maintain weight. And pelvic floor work should not be forgotten, ”says García Bataller.

Yoga and adapted pilates are also two “safe” activities for pregnant women, says Sara Tabares, a graduate in Physical Activity and Sports Sciences. The director of the Performa center in Valencia warns that some sports must be avoided due to the risk of falls and blows, such as cycling, horse riding, football, basketball or hockey.

It is enough to dedicate 150 minutes to moderate physical activity each week, spread over three days, the coach points out. “In each session we can incorporate a variety of both aerobic and strength exercises, along with gentle stretching or yoga. Gestures related to the pelvic floor should be performed daily », she advises.

Physical activity must be “regular and maintained over time”, never sporadically and unscheduled and no more than 5 days a week – an excess is related to a low birth weight of the child -, points out García Bataller. And never exercise in environments of special heat, cold or height. The two experts agree that physical activity during pregnancy helps prevent hypertension and gestational diabetes, benefits the development of the fetus and prepares to face childbirth in better conditions. “It also facilitates the psychological well-being of women and prevents pre- and postpartum depression.”

The keys

  • Activities
    Swimming, walking, stationary cycling, adapted yoga and pilates, strength and pelvic floor exercises. Always under medical control and supervision of physical trainers. The type of activity and intensity depend on whether the woman already practiced sports or was sedentary.

  • routines
    Three or four days a week. It begins with activation exercises to move on to aerobic work and muscle strengthening. Then it is convenient to develop balance and coordination, pelvic floor work and relaxation. Keep your heart rate below 150 beats.

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