What cardiovascular (CV) exercise is best and safest during pregnancy and why should I bother?!

You may well be feeling a bit pukey and/or constipated (the delights of pregnancy) if you are still in trimester 1, but hopefully that will start to getting better over the next couple of weeks. This feature is all about cardiovascular exercise. If you can face some it may well help ease those pesky pregnancy symptoms.

Cardio exercise is important for keeping your heart and lungs fit and healthy. You’ll need a good level of fitness and endurance for labour (one of the most demanding things your body will ever go through!) and looking after a new baby and the rest of the family (and yourself of course!) Why would you NOT want to improve your cardio fitness?

Read more…..

Can I carry on running throughout my pregnancy?


Lucie half marathon

Why should I carry on running in pregnancy?

 Running is fantastic cardiovascular exercise and will help keep your heart and lungs fit and strong. In addition to all the usual benefits from exercising during pregnancy:

  • A shorter labour, with less likelihood of complications – I had quite enjoyable pregnancies with no sick days from work, straightforward and short labours (both under 5 hours) vaginal deliveries and a very quick recovery, was active within a couple of days!
  • Less likely to suffer from nausea and morning sickness
  •  Improved core strength and stability
  • A stronger back and reduction in back pain
  • Better posture
  •  Stronger pelvic floors
  • Better circulation, less likely to suffer from varicose veins, swelling and high blood pressure
  • Stronger bones
  • Avoid excessive weight gain and easier to get back into shape after the birth
  • More energy and self-confidence – lift your mood and feel great!
  • Strengthen the muscles used in childbirth
  •  It will help you sleep
  • Improved cardio-vascular fitness and muscle tone
  • Lessen the likelihood of developing gestational diabetes

With all of those benefits, why would you not exercise?! After pregnancy you will retain a lot of these benefits, in addition to finding it easier to lose excess weight and tone up. With running having some time outdoors and time to yourself are also great feel-good benefits.

One of the most common things I hear is that it is not safe to run during pregnancy. There is no one-size-fits-all response to this. It largely depends on your pre-pregnancy fitness level and running experience. If you have never been a runner do not start during pregnancy. If you have done a little bit of running I would suggest keeping it at a moderate intensity (jogging rather than running) and no more than 30 minutes a couple of times a week. If you haven’t done any running for at least a couple of months then do something else. If it feels at all uncomfortable then do something else. If you are an experienced runner then there is no reason you cannot carry on running during your pregnancy.

I carried on running…but was always safe and sensible

 I love all kinds of exercise, especially aerobics and other fitness classes, but running really is my all time fave and I ran up to the end of the second trimester with both of my pregnancies. After that it began to feel a bit uncomfortable, but that’s just me. Every woman is different and should listen to their own body. Some women continue to run throughout their pregnancies right to the end and some just don’t feel right running from the outset. Do what feels right for you. I also did my first full marathon when my first baby was 8 months old!

 Here are some points about running safely and sensibly during pregnancy:

  •  Avoid overheating
  • Eat before and after exercise, (a snack, not a three course meal) around an hour either side should do it
  • Wear a good bra and trainers when you are working out
  • Be aware of running conditions – look after your personal safety, stick to well-lit areas and avoid rough or hilly terrain
  • Your pre-pregnancy exercise and fitness levels will determine what level you can exercise at
  • Remember your pelvic floor exercises (even if you are having a c-section) as running does put extra pressure on these muscles
  • Adapt your running plan as your pregnancy progresses, see below
  • Warm up and cool down gradually
  • Stretch the muscles you used in your workout when you get home (all the big leg muscles)
  • Try to maintain a good posture (all the time!)
  • Stay well hydrated
  • Take care not to overstretch or push yourself too hard; the hormone relaxin makes your joints more prone to injury

Advice for running throughout your pregnancy: 

running in the first trimester

 During trimester one you can carry on as usual, as long as the intensity is not very high (i.e. intervals, sprinting), the duration isn’t too long (i.e. longer than 90 minutes) and you are not working harder than what you have been used to.

running in the second trimester

During trimester two you should start decreasing your intensity and duration once it starts to feel like it is becoming harder. Remember, you should be comfortably be able to maintain a conversation when you are working out. Your body is changing and although you can carry on running (although it should be ‘jogging’ – not too fast!) you should gradually start to adapt your workouts.

 running in the third trimester

During trimester three you may be able to carry on jogging if it still feels ok, but make sure you listen to your body and move on to a lower impact activity if it doesn’t feel right. Your bump may make you feel unbalanced or you may have some pelvic aches. Cross training, power walking, cycling and swimming are all great alternatives. If you do continue to jog then, once again, work at a comfortable intensity for a sensible duration and maybe build in some walk/jog sessions, alternating between each for five minutes at a time.

 Safety comes first:

In summary, if your pregnancy is low risk and you feel fine, don’t be frightened to continue something you enjoy, but remember running is high impact and you may feel more comfortable moving to gentler activities later on in your pregnancy with a view to taking up running again once you have had your baby. It’s up to you – every woman is different. Definitely ignore anyone that tries to criticise you jogging with a bump; we need to change the way people perceive pregnant women – start the revolution!

More about running in pregnancy here

Nell McAndrew certainly not afraid of working out in pregnancy – wow!

Nell McAndrew has exclusively revealed her second pregnancy to HELLO! magazine. (Check it out now!)

No stranger to exercises – the model is 20 weeks pregnant and is keeping up her fitness regime by running six miles a day along with twice-weekly gym sessions!

You have probably realised by now that I advocate exercise in pregnancy 🙂 This story from Nell is a great example of how pre-pregnancy fitness levels inform how much activity you can do when you are expecting. A super fit 39 year old mum of one Nell was running 90 miles a week and was a seasoned long distance runner before she became pregnant again. In her case the amount of exercise she is doing is fine as long as she feels ok and makes sure she builds in some rest time. Also, that she listens to her body and tapers of her sessions a bit later on in her pregnancy. I say – well done Nell! Another fit mum changing preconceptions, I hope your pregnancy is a happy, healthy one.

Just remember if you aren’t as fit as Nell (and most of us aren’t), you will need to set your pregnancy exercise levels according to YOUR fitness and individual pregnancy circumstances x

Jenny Wright branded ‘selfish cow’ by running while pregnant – I think she’s fab!

I say GO JENNY!! We need more women like you! Exercise during pregnancy is not only safe, it is incredibly beneficial for mum and baby. I am glad to see another woman standing up for herself and trying to change the way people think.

There is tons of research now to advocate exercise during pregnancy (provided it is straightforward, low risk pregnancy) and it should not be an odd site to see a woman running with a bump.

I would not recommend taking up running when you are expecting if you have never done it before, but if you love it, are experienced and it feels ok then carry on! I have a whole section about running in pregnancy and as a new mum in my book, The 3-plan: your complete pregnancy and postnatal exercise plan.

Like Jenny, I exercised throughout my pregnancy (I did 40 minutes on my cross trainer the day before she arrived) and I too had no pain relief during my labour. My daughter was healthy and born quickly and naturally. I recovered quickly and have loads of energy for my new family. I too snapped back into my size 8 jeans a couple of weeks after having my daughter, which was fantastic and a big confidence boost.

Jenny finishes by saying “I’m proud to be the jogging mother” – I’ll be running right up there with you! Lets start the revolution to give new mums great bodies, tons of confidence and energy and most importantly a healthy, fit lifestyle which sets an example to their kids.