Keeping up the motivation to exercise on a regular basis isn’t easy at the best of times, throw in pregnancy and all that comes with it; I’m talking an ever increasing belly, never ending tiredness, aches, pains and the desire to demolish entire packs of biscuits in one sitting, and it can seem like a task of Everest proportions.
Yet somehow here I am, 39 weeks in to my pregnancy and for the second time round still exercising. Call me crazy, a glutton for punishment but keeping active on a daily basis, has been my one bit of consistency in the ever evolving, mad experience that is pregnancy. A stress reliever and my time to think, I also feel reassurance in the knowledge that keeping fit and strong during pregnancy will not only aid my birthing experience but my recovery post birth, not to mention the multiple benefits to my unborn child. One study even found that keeping fit during pregnancy could increase your unborn child’s athletic ability, while other research has shown babies of prenatal exercisers to have healthier hearts, better memories, linguistic skills and higher scores on intelligence tests.
But since motivation and pregnancy don’t often go hand in hand, I thought I’d share my 5 top tips to exercising and staying motivated in pregnancy.
- Keep It Quick. You don’t have to exercise for hours for it to be an effective workout. The majority of my workouts are just 30 minutes long yet still produce results. Knowing I only have to find around 30 minutes in a day to exercise, makes it a lot easier to fit in to my schedule and a lot less daunting than the idea of working out for over an hour.
- Book It In. I like to book my workouts in my dairy each week, so that no matter what my schedule, I know I have set aside a certain amount of time to exercise that is convenient to myself, my work and my family. It also gives me less of an excuse to back out knowing the time has been booked in.
- Mix It Up. Variation is key. If you’re bored of your workout it’s not going to work and you will struggle to keep up your routine. Try circuits where you vary the exercise you do with each workout or different exercises classes (don’t worry if it’s not a pregnancy class the instructor will be more than happy to give you pregnancy friendly adaption’s). I also recommend mixing up cardio sessions with resistance (yes resistance training with weights is actually a brilliant form of prenatal exercise), download exercise aps (I’ve continued following the Kayla Itsines works through out this pregnancy, making pregnancy friendly adaption’s as my body requires) and even streamline workouts from the comfort of your own home.
- Invest in Some Comfortable Prenatal Fitness Wear. Sounds obvious but prenatal fitness wear is relatively new to the fitness scene and many versions do not cut it. Leggings that fall down, cut in to your bump or make you over heat are only going to make the thought of exercising seem even less enticing. Feeling comfortable and secure in the knowledge that you are not going to expose yourself every time you bend over is key. I tried a variety of brands but new prenatal fitness wear brand Running Bump were the only brand of legging I could comfortably work out in, fitting as well at 20 weeks pregnant as they do now at 39 weeks. A comfortable and well fitting sport bra is also essential. I love my one from Bravado but Cake Maternity also do a great maternity sports bras.
- Listen To Your Body. This may sound counter productive since the very nature of pregnancy makes you not feel like exercising but learning to listen to your body is vital. If anything doesn’t feel right and you feel any aches or pains, stop what you are doing immediately and adapt or change it to something more pregnancy friendly (don’t be surprised if this happens multiple times throughout your pregnancy, as the more it progresses the more adaption’s you will have to make). At the same time only you know what you’re body can and can’t do, don’t be put off by what Jo Bloggs tells you. If you’re unsure about how safe an exercise is, why not check with a personal trainer at your gym (don’t worry if you’re not their client) or better yet check out my prenatal exercise videos for some expert advice from Charlie Launder, head of pre & postnatal at the brilliant Bumps & Burpees.
All photography by Logan Irvine-MacDougall.
What keeps you motivated to exercise? Share you’re top tips below.