Body & Fitness

Gemma McCaw on how to adapt your fitness routine as your body changes

With fitness, one size does not fit all - and that especially goes for pregnancy.

Heading for a walk in the Canterbury hills last week, I found myself breathing a lot more heavily than usual and noticed my muscles were really starting to ache. I suddenly realised that given I’m into my third trimester of pregnancy, it’s probably time to slow down.

Things are different with a baby on board and it was a great reminder that we should listen to our bodies. The same goes if you are coming back from an injury or even just starting out on your fitness journey. Our bodies change and we must adapt with them as we look to build our fitness.

Find a friend

Team up with someone who is a positive influence and whose company you enjoy, and set about your fitness journey together. Having someone to exercise with not only makes it more fun, but it also holds you accountable by making sure you don’t slack off, which helps you reach your fitness goals.

Choose fun

Life is a marathon, not a sprint, and choosing a form of exercise that you can enjoy for the long term is good. There is no quick fix when it comes to fitness. It’s about finding an activity that suits you and your lifestyle. The main thing is that it should be something enjoyable you can sustain for years to come.

Be gentle on yourself

During pregnancy, joints loosen and balance can be affected. It’s not the time to start a new regime, but experts have recommended that low to moderate activity can have huge benefits.

Promoting stability in your joints and muscles is key, so try low-impact exercise such as yoga, Pilates, swimming or walking.

Know your limit

Exercise is great, but we must train our brains to identify when it’s the right time to put our feet down, and also when to apply the breaks.

Our bodies are clever – they’ll tell us when we’ve overdone it, so pay attention! If you’re feeling achier than usual or huffing and puffing, scale back your routine and opt for something gentler until you’re back to your best.

Seek advice

The biggest challenge for people who’ve been injured is avoiding the temptation to rush back into exercise before the body is healed. Make sure you check with a physiotherapist or doctor for the all-clear.

Or if you’re a fitness newbie, try a few sessions with an experienced trainer who can guide youthrough what is best for your body.

Stretch it!

You should always take the time to stretch or your muscles can get stiff and break down. Gentle stretching is great while pregnant, if you have injured muscles or if you are just starting out.

Start slow

If you’re new to exercise or are easing your way back in, it’s best to take a slow and gradual approach. Start with just 10 to 15 minutes a day and when you feel ready, add on five minutes to your workout until you build up to 20 to 30-minute sessions.

This will depend on how your body responds, but think about extending the time of your workout rather than upping the intensity.

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