The days have passed where exercise during pregnancy is frowned upon and women are no longer encouraged to sit around for the duration of anticipating the new addition. In fact, it is proven that exercise improves the mothers stamina for a shorter and easier labour, not to mention lowering the risk of a caesarian and diabetes. Staying moderately active during pregnancy is proven to result in a much shorter recovery time and faster results when achieving pre-pregnancy weight. It also reduces back and hip pain due to a smaller amount of weight gain and stronger, healthier body over all.
Since there seems to be a lot of confusion as to what is safe and what is not, I thought it would be good to touch base on this. How can you safely workout without harming yourself or your baby? The part that gets tricky is that there are no specific standards or hard answers as to how much or which specific activities are safe and recommended to women.
The fitness level of each woman varies so widely that the number one piece of advice I give here is to listen to your body; luckily it is designed to tell you if your over doing it or not. Your body will most likely not let you over exert without signaling you to stop. Some signs to look for here are dizziness, nausea, bleeding or pain. You should refrain from engaging in full contact sports or anything that causes risk of falling. A good rule of thumb to go by would be to keep your maximum efforts at a 7 out of ten and to take rest when feeling over fatigued. During exercise, a conversation should be difficult, but possible if you wanted to. With that being said, there are many options available for us here in Prince George to stay fit and healthy during your pregnancy.
During the first and second trimester, my choice of exercise was jogging and hiking with a combination of light weights. I strongly recommend getting outside as much as possible. The fresh air will make you happier and more energetic through the day. For the more experienced hikers, you can try a nice 10km hike at Raven Lake with an elevation gain of about 1500ft. Expect to ascend approximately 2 hours through old growth spruce forests to an A frame cabin at the top with a beautiful, crystal clear gem of a lake. You can stop here for lunch before you start your way back down for the additional 1.5-2 hours return.
If you are looking for something a little lighter and family friendly, you can try one of BC’s best-kept secrets and spend a couple hours walking through the wet-temperature Ancient Forest where you will find ferns, creeks, cedars and a beautiful waterfall. If you don’t have time for an all day adventure, one of my personal favorite things to do is going to the UNBC connector trail systems which includes over 10kms of trails that are regularly used by snowshoers and cross country skiers in the winter months or walkers, joggers, cyclists and equestrians in the spring and summer.
By the third trimester of pregnancy, it’s getting a bit harder to move around. You will want to find some low impact exercise, perhaps try out the Prince George Aquatic Centre where it will be a huge relief to let the pool take the pressure off your back and let your belly float. Here you can engage in a variety of water aerobics classes, take a casual swim or use the well-equipped Fitness Centre. You will also find a lazy river where you can walk against the current to get your muscles working. This is a great family activity if you have any other little ones with you.
Chinook Yoga offers pre-natal yoga classes involving stretches, breathing and muscle toning while improving your stress level and relieving back and joint pain. These are very popular classes and they fill up fast so I would suggest booking well in advance.
The 3rd trimester is the most uncomfortable and so I found that even stretching sometimes wasn’t doing the trick for my the aching in my hips. It was then that I discovered Prince George Acupuncture where I started a series of weekly treatments to improve everything from my nausea trying to make a come back, my back and hip pain, and a long lingering chest cold. I found that after 3 treatments I was feeling a world of difference with all of my symptoms and said goodbye to a majority of my discomfort.
Your pre-natal health is essential and a reflection of the good health of your baby. Your body is going through a variety of changes both inside and out which can get frustrating and discouraging to new and first time mothers-to-be. Be creative and know that there are plenty of options and opportunities to get feeling and looking great in your new and ever changing body!