Whether you were an exercise fanatic or not before you fell pregnant, starting an exercise routine or continuing one is important during your pregnancy. Walking has many benefits to your body. It works most of your joints, ligaments and muscles. It increases your heart rate to a healthy level, making you fitter and your heart healthier. It doesn’t have the same jarring impact on your joints that full-out running does. And it’s a good way to clear your mind and de-stress your body.
Like any exercise, it is important to get the go-ahead from your doctor before starting, but once you do, our easy-to-follow program lets you build up the intensity of your walks, letting your body adjust over the three trimesters. Remember to invest in a good pair of walking shoes that support your feet and ankles, apply sunscreen to protect your skin, and always take a bottle of water with you to prevent dehydration. Make sure you walk in a safe place, or with someone else... and keep of fthe roads and rather walk on the pavements to avoid cars.
Read before you begin!
TAKE THE TALK TEST:
During the hardest part of your workout, you should be able to talk without gasping for breath, though not with complete ease either.
USE RATE OF PERCEIVED EXERTION (RPE) SCALE:
On a scale of 1-10, most of your walks should fall between a 3 (slow walk) and a 7 (fast enough that you couldn't keep it up for more than 30-40 minutes).
WATCH FOR DANGER SIGNS:
Stop if you experience pain, bleeding, dizziness, faintness, sudden swelling, lack of normal foetal movement, an abnormalyy rapid heartbeat or extreme fatigue.
*You've never exercised or you do so only rarely.
Approach this program gradually andfocus primarliy on sticking with it.Increases in intensity and duration willcome over time.
- Start by walking 10-15 minutes a day, three days a week, taking at least one day off between walks.
- When you feel ready, add another day of walking and increase each walk you have by 5 minutes.
- After a few weeks, add a fifth day of walking to your routine.
During this "honeymoon" trimester, energy peaks and nausea should be history- the perfect time to exercise.
- If you are beginning this program in your second trimester, start by walking 10 minutes a day, 4-5 days per week.
- When you're ready, pick 2 days that will become your longer-walk days (15-30 minutes) and add another day of walking to the routine.
Try to stick with five to six days a week as a goal, but be prepared to slow down as your belly gets bigger.
- If you are beginning this program in your third trimester, start by walking 10 minutes a day, 4-6 days a week.
- If your energy slumps, decrease the length of your walks or break them down into shorter sessions.
- Aim to maintain the same total minutes of walking per week as at the end of the second trimester, but know that your pace- and thus the distance you cover- will naturally decrease.
*You're active, but exercise may be sporadic.
The fitter you were before you became pregnant, the sooner you can ramp up to six days of walking a week.
- Start by walking 20 minutes a day, four days a week.
- When you feel ready (after 4-5 weeks), add a fifth day, then a sixth. Alos, increase the length of each walk by a few minutes each time.
You're ready to gradually lenghten your walks and pick up the pace. Just be sure not to push if you're feeling tired.
- If you are beginning in your second trimester, start by walking 20 minutes a day, 4-6 days a week.
- Gradually add minutes every other day so that your total on those days is at least 30-40 minutes.
- Once or twice a week, only if you're feeling up to it, increase your RPE by one level for 10-15 minutes during the middle of the workout routine.
Try to stick with 5-6 days a week as a goal, but be prepared to slow down as your belly gets bigger.
- If you are beginning this program in your third trimester, strat by walking 10 minutes a day, 4-6 days a week.
- If your energy slumps, decrease the length f your walks or break them down in shorter sessions.
- Aim to maintain the same total minutes of walking per week as as the end of the second trimester, but know that your oace- and thus the distance you cover- will naturally decrease.
*You're fit and exercise four or more times per week.
Even if you're a faithful exerciser, changing to a low-impact walking program might be just what you need.
- Start by walking 20-30 minutes a day, five days a week.
- When you feel ready, add a sixth day and increase the length of each walk by a few minutes each day.
- If you feel up to it, also add hills, stairs and bursts of increased speed (intervals), but don't push beyond an RPE of seven.
If you're feeling good, it's fine to continue increasing the length of your walks.
- If you beginning in your second trimester, strat by walking 30-40 minutes a day, six days a week.
- Choose one day when you aim for 50 minutes, but don't push beyond RPE of 7.
- Lengthen your shorter walks until your total is at least 40-50 minutes on each of the remaining five days.
This trimester is all about staying comfortable, so keep the focus on simply remaining active.
- If you are starting in your third trimester, begin by walking 20-50 minutes a day, 4-6 days a week.
- Forget about speed and distance, and don't push beyond RPE of 7.
- Divide your walks into shorter sessions if that's more comfortable for you.