Recently in Perth for the Fitness & Health Expo, an expecting Michelle Bridges talked to Scoop about exercising while pregnant.

What are your top three exercises for pregnant women? 

I’ve been training pretty hard for most of my life, so remember that I might be starting at a higher fitness level than a non-exerciser, but I’ve always made squats part of my workouts and I still incorporate them now I’m pregnant. I keep them light – either body weight or lightly weighted.

Power-walking up a hill is a great cardio workout and it clears my head.

Thrusters (they’re a squat and a shoulder press mixed together) are another great cardio exercise, and good for lower- and upper-body strength.

I’m also focusing more on stability exercises than I normally would, like kneeling core balances and forward ball rolls on my toes. I work more on my mobility, keeping in mind that relaxing is starting to loosen up my ligaments, tendons and muscles, so I don’t go crazy.

Now that you’re pregnant, which exercises do you feel are the best?

Of course, everything is less intense and I use much lighter weights – some days I just don’t train at all. I listen to my body, not my head (there’s a big difference) and I feel that I’m very much in touch with what it’s telling me. I basically do my usual training but with a dialled-down approach, scaling it down as the weeks roll by. As well as the exercises I mentioned above, I do some jogging (treadmill and outdoors), stair-walking, cross trainer, rowing machine, assault bike, and the odd body-attack class for a cardio workout. In the weight room, I’m doing sumo squats, fit-ball hamstring curls, deadlifts, and bent-over rows, along with some kettle-bell work. The odd Body Pump class is always fun.

What are the benefits?

The benefits are huge! Outside of the published research, people who have
trained through pregnancy on my Twelve Week Body Transformation say that the
results are mind-blowing! The benefits to the baby, birthing, and to the health of the mother are downright amazing!

There’s no 100 per cent guarantee of a trouble-free pregnancy but the odds are much better. The potential benefits include less back pain, less weight gain, lower blood pressure, and less chance of varicose veins, through to a healthier placenta, better blood and oxygen flow to the baby, less likelihood of umbilical entanglement, less chance of longer labour (that’s a winner in my books!) and better mood for mum pre- and post-childbirth. The list goes on and on and on.
Not everyone can exercise during pregnancy of course, for many different reasons, but research from studies all over the world tells us that a good exercise program during pregnancy can help to improve the whole process for both the mother and the baby.

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