Keep fit in your first trimester with Aqua-aerobics
When you’re pregnant, it’s important to keep active. There are many different types of exercise suitable for pregnant women, and they all have a variety of benefits.
The exercise does not have to be intensive, in fact particularly strenuous workouts when pregnant are a no-no, just as long as you’re up and about, moving regularly throughout each of the 40 weeks, then you will be doing enough to experience significant health positives.
And if you’re looking for something that’s fun, social, and relaxing, at the same time as giving you a workout, then an aqua-aerobics class may be just the thing for you.
What is aqua-aerobics?
Aqua-aerobics is quite simply aerobic exercises done in water. The movements are often very low intensity and can be done with the aid of pool noodles and kickboards, making it a great entry-level exercise for beginners.
There are many classes, held at pools across the UK, tailored specifically to pregnant women; sometimes known as aquanatal classes, they can be enjoyed from day one of your pregnancy right through the second and third trimesters.
Most aerobics classes held on dry land will probably be too fast-paced and challenging for pregnant women, and for a complete beginner, the risk of sustaining an injury could be relatively high.
But, when you take aerobics exercises to the water, the level of risk drops right down to near-zero. If you’ve been used to an intense exercise regime before your pregnancy but have now been told that you shouldn’t continue because of the risks, then an aqua-aerobics class may be a great low intensity alternative for you to keep up your fitness levels for the duration of your pregnancy.
And particularly as your bump grows, the water can help relieve some of the uncomfortable conditions pregnant women face. Oedema, where your ankles and feet swell because of increased fluid in your body, is a common problem encountered by many pregnant women. Staying on your feet for long periods of time and putting too much pressure on your joints is likely to make the swelling, and the aching that comes with it, worse. Exercising in water, however, can give you’re your joints and limbs extra support, easing the pain. That’s why, if you’re finding oedema is making it painful to exercise on your feet, an aqua-aerobics class is often the perfect option.
In fact, because the water will give your whole body support, an aqua-aerobics class is beneficial for anyone who doesn’t feel that light or agile on their feet. The water will give you buoyancy, meaning that the chances of falling are low, so aqua aerobics is one of the safest exercise choices there is.
Exercise in the first trimester
Many women who are not regulars at the gym but decide to dip their toe in the water (so to speak) and take up aqua aerobics when they find out they are pregnant often speak about enjoying the weightlessness they feel when in the water. Mix this with the gentle pace of a class specifically tailored towards pregnant women and you have a very calming, stress-free form of exercise that could help to lift your mood.
The endorphins released when you are active can help you through some of the common, unpleasant symptoms of the first trimester (nausea, fatigue and sickness). And if you’re happy and relaxed, then it’s likely your baby will be, too.
All the above reasons make antenatal aqua-aerobics very popular with mums-to-be, so you’re bound to find an aquanatal class at a swimming pool near you. This also means you’re likely to meet many other soon-to-be-mums, giving you the opportunity to socialise and make friends with people who are going through similar experiences to you.
If you’ve already been attending a regular aqua-aerobics class and intend to continue, make sure your instructor is qualified to lead an antenatal class and that they know you’re pregnant, as this will ensure that they know how to modify any of the moves so they’re more comfortable for you. Otherwise, join an aquanatal class. Aquabellies and Puddle Ducks hold classes up and down the country, each lead by a qualified instructor.
Basic swimming ability would be preferable, but most classes take place in shallow water, so it might not be necessary. It never hurts to check with your instructor before signing up if you’re worried.
As always, you should check with your doctor or midwife before attempting any new type of exercise. Even though aqua-aerobics is generally very safe – perhaps one of the safest forms of exercise for pregnant women – you can never be too careful when you’re expecting. You may have a health condition, such as gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia, which makes participating in any form of exercise a risk. Even if you’re almost certain that you’ll be OK, it’s still worth a mention to your GP.