The next several months are very important to me and my family as we welcome our 2nd baby girl into the family. You can expect new and interesting blogs from me starting this May! Thank you for your interest in Staying Fit and Healthy!
I am 4 months pregnant and very excited to welcome another baby girl to our family this February! As many women experience during their first trimester, those first 3 months were not fun as they were filled with days of fatigue, nausea, and many other emotional and physical changes. Thankfully, I am feeling some relief as I head into my 2nd trimester!
Years ago, doctors recommended very little activity during pregnancy as it was thought to be harmful for the baby. We now know that exercise during pregnancy is very healthy and safe for both the mother and the baby. However, that doesn’t mean that every pregnant mother is going to feel like hitting the gym everyday either! Just like when you’re not pregnant, it is important to find something that works for your body and your schedule.
Here are my recommendations on how to stay active during your pregnancy:
(Please note these recommendations are general guidelines for normal, low risk pregnancies. ALWAYS talk to your doctor before beginning or continuing an exercise program during pregnancy.)
1) Stick with what you’re use to!
If you are currently running, it is fine to continue running. If your body is use to biking, continue biking (consider an indoor stationary bike to reduce the risk of falling). If you were not doing anything before getting pregnant, now is not the time to go crazy, just be active: walking, light lifting, and easy stretching.
2) Keep your heart rate around 140bpm. Now is a great time to invest in a heart rate monitor ($50-$200+) if you don’t already have one. You don’t need a really fancy one – just one that includes a strap that goes under your sports bra, and a watch that reads your heart rate. While 140 bpm is the current recommendation, always go by how you feel too! If you feel very tired and out of breath at 130 bpm, don’t go any higher. If you feel like you are hardly working at 140 bpm, maybe it’s safe for your body to go a little higher. Doing light cardio will also help with water gain and swelling.
3) Include light strength training in your routine.
Now is not the time to INCREASE your strength, just the time to MAINTAIN it. You want to feel like your WORKING the muscle by doing 10-20 repetitions – don’t worry about OVERLOADING the muscle like you would do when you’re not pregnant.
4) 3 muscle groups to focus on during pregnancy:
-upper back – This tends to be a weak area in most Americans anyway, but add in the fact that most women’s breast size increases during pregnancy and you’ve got a recipe for a tight, weak upper back. You’ll also need these muscles strong for holding and feeding your baby.
-abs – It is OK to do ab exercises on your back for your first trimester – after that, try to strengthen your abs by doing planks, seated ab exercises, and standing exercises. The first 20 weeks of pregnancy is the most comfortable time to work this area so take advantage of this time!
-low back – With your growing belly, your likely to experience low back pain as your center of gravity gets farther and farther away from you! It is safe to lay on your tummy for your first trimester (if it feels good to you), after that, you’ll want to strengthen your low back doing planks and standing exercises.
**Keeping these 3 muscle groups strong during pregnancy will elevate many of the aches and pains you would otherwise feel. If you’re not sure what exercises to do or if they are safe for you, work with your doctor or a Certified Personal Trainer.
5) Include yoga into your routine.
Pregnancy can be a very emotional time due to the increase in hormones, the fact that your body is being “taken over” by the baby, and the overwhelming number of thoughts and concerns you may have about the arrival of your little one. Yoga incorporates the stretching you need to make your body feel better, but it also includes breath work that will calm you (and prepare you for childbirth), and relaxation where you can connect with your baby and your body. There are some poses that are not recommended during pregnancy so it is important to work with a yoga teacher that is 200 RYT (that means the instructor has had at least 200 hours of accredited training hours making him/her a Registered Yoga Teacher through the Yoga Alliance).
Incorporating my 5 tips above will help make your pregnancy an enjoyable, amazing experience! Congrats Mommy-To-Be!
Interval training is a fun way to spice up your workouts and burn more calories in the process!Â Interval training is basically exercising at a slightly higher intensity than your normal exercise state, followed by a brief recovery period.Â You can increase intensity by going faster or adding more resistance.Â For example, walking as fast as you can for 1 minute, recovering at your normal or slightly slower than normal walking pace for 1-2 minutes.
Tips for interval training:
-If exercising outside:Â choose landmarks to indicate your intensity change point (1 block fast, 1-2 blocks slow)
-If you are exercising to music, every time the chorus plays, bring your intensity up! Recover during the non-chorus part of the song.
-If you watch TV while you workout, bump up the intensity during the commercials, recover during your show.
-Use a your sport watch:Â most sport watches can be programed for interval training. You can set it to beep after x number of minutes, and beep again for your recovery.
You should shoot for at least 8-10 intervals and/or 30-60 minutes of activity.Â Don’t forget to warm-up for 5 minutes before you start your intervals, and cool-down after. Have fun!
Walking is one of the most common and most recommended forms of exercise – probably because it is accessible to most people. With nice days finally upon us, more of us are out there hitting the trails and walking.
There is walking to just enjoy the fresh air and relax, and then there is walking to get a cardiovascular workout to maintain or lose weight.Â If your goal with walking is the latter of the two, check out these tips to make the most of your walks!
2 – Form:Â When we try to walk faster, we think of taking longer strides – this is the opposite of what you want to do. Try talking normal to slightly shorter than normal steps, squeezing your backside, swinging your arms, and make sure your heel hits the pavement first, then you roll onto the ball of your foot.
3 – Route:Â Make sure you vary your route. Walking trails are better than street walking due to the slight slope of most streets. If you always walk on the left side of the road, then your right foot is always hitting the ground slightly higher than your left. Overtime, this can lead to injury.
4 – Hills:Â Include hills in your route! This is not hard to do around the city of Cottage Grove! Purposely plan a route that includes some big hills at least once a week. Hill walking will burn more calories and tone your backside. Take it easy on your knees on the downhill – go slightly slower downhill, bending more at the knees so your quadriceps (thigh muscles) take the load rather than your precious knees!
5 – Add weight:Â If you’re looking to add intensity to your walks and you feel like you can’t walk any faster and your knees don’t like the hills, I recommend using a weighted vest. A weighted vest will distribute the extra weight evenly and safely as apposed to holding hand weights or using ankle weights.
6 – Shoes:Â Make sure you have a WALKING or RUNNING shoe -do not use cross trainers, basketball shoes, or others – those are meant to support your foot when moving laterally (side-to-side); whereas walking/running shoes support your foot in the forward direction. It is also important to get the right shoe for your foot and gait. Go to a running shoe store where they watch you walk and let you know if you have a neutral foot or not. If you don’t, you need shoes that provides the right support. Also, if you have a neutral foot, you want to make sure you are not using a stabilizing shoe. Lastly, get new shoes every 500 miles or every 6 months if you walk 3 or more times a week.
7 – Spice it Up:Â Throw in some push-ups on the grass of a local park, do some walking lunges down the street, be creative! Any strength training is better than none – and it is fun to do something different!
8 – Buddy Up:Â Make walking dates with your spouse, friends, kids, or your 4-legged friend. Having someone to meet is always going to help keep you more accountable and less likely to miss.
9 – Distance:Â Know your distance! It can be fun and motivating to know how many miles you are walking. A lot of phones have apps for tracking distance or GPS systems built in. If you don’t have a phone like that or maybe want to leave the phone behind, use this website to track your distance.
10 – Have a back-up plan for unpleasant weather. Know where you can use a treadmill or indoor track to walk if it’s not looking good outside.
Many of us wonder if all the working out we do is “paying-off.”Â When we are active, of course we feel better and stronger, look better, sleep better, and are happier (among many other things), but what if you want more evidence that your fitness and health is improving?
A lot of trainers use fitness testing to accomplish this for their clients.Â Fitness testing can be used to see improvement in all areas of fitness including your cardiovascular fitness, your strength level, and your flexibility.Â You can also compare your results to the average population to see how you stack up!
How do I Test Myself?
A common exercise used in a fitness check is a pushup. How many pushups can you do in one minute? For men, the pushups are done on your toes. For women, most of the guidelines out there are for knee pushups. (This doesn’t mean women should always do pushups on their knees – it’s just the results in most studies are done this way.)
How do I compare?
You can use this website to see how you compare to the average population:Â For example, an average 45 year old woman can do 13 knee pushups in 1 minute.
For more ideas on how to measure and track your fitness level and compare it to the general populations, speak with a fitness professional.
Yoga seems to be everywhere these days!Â You see classes being offered at your local fitness facility, yoga mats and equipment for sale at local stores, and it seems like almost everyone has tried it or has a friend that practices regularly.Â So what is yoga?
While the practice of yoga is becoming increasingly popular in the western countries, it has been around for thousands of years and started in India.Â Yoga is not a religion, nor is it tied to one specific religion.Â Yoga is a physical and psychological discipline that helps us understand our mind/body relationship.Â Most of us are familiar with the physical side of yoga where you practice poses or â€œasanas.â€Â The physical practice is only 1 of the 8 limbs of yoga so it is actually a very small part of the practice.Â However, starting with the physical poses is a great place for many of us to start.
There are many different styles of Hatha yoga out there.Â Hatha yoga includes all the styles of yoga that focus on the physical side of yoga described above. Some of the most common are:Â Ashtanga, Kundalini, Iyengar, Bikram (hot yoga), Viniyoga, and Vinyasa.Â With so many different styles to choose from, it is important to remember that they are all really different and appeal to different people.Â Try as many different styles as you can with different instructors!Â No two yoga practices are the same!
You DONâ€™T have to be flexible to do yoga! You will become more flexible from your practice so donâ€™t let that stop you! Â Besides flexibility, youâ€™ll also gain strength and balance, and learn out to relax the mind and connect with your body.
An Intro to Yoga class is a great place to start your yoga journey!Â Look for a local fitness studio that offers an Intro to Yoga class in a small group setting so you are not lost in the crowd.Â These classes usually flow at a slower pace, and break down the poses in more detail to help beginner student understand the pose, feel confident, and stay safe in their practice.
Get started on your yoga journey today!
When is the best time to exercise?Â Is it better to workout in the morning, during the day, or in the evening?Â There is not one perfect answer for everybody, but the information below will help you figure out your body’s optimum workout time.
First off, if you are exercising regularly (3-6 times a week), then you already know your optimum workout time – don’t change your routine!Â Itâ€™s working for you!
If you struggle finding energy and motivation to workout, it could be due to exercising at non-optimal times for your body.Â Our bodies are most productive when our body temperature is at its highest.Â Our body temperature is at its lowest an hour or two before we wake up in the morning, and itâ€™s usually at its highest in the late afternoon.Â So for the majority of us, working out around 3-5pm could be the best time for our bodies.
However, there are three big problems with working out during this time:
1 â€“ Most of us are at work during this time.
2 â€“ As the day goes on, more â€œstuffâ€ comes up that will â€œforceâ€ you to break your exercise commitment.
3 â€“ The stress of our jobs can make us feel tired and sluggish during this time of the day even though it may be our best time (body temperature wise).
If you are not currently active, and have the ability to workout in the late afternoon, start here, and see if you can develop a routine. This may be a good incentive to leave work on time, or to include co-workers or your kids in your workout routine.Â Plus, you can work off the stress of your day so you donâ€™t bring it home with you.
If you canâ€™t seem to stay regular with your fitness routine, pick a time of day that you feel the best! Â Are you a morning person or a night owl?Â Donâ€™t force yourself to exercise in the morning if you are not a morning person! You wonâ€™t stick with your routine!
If you are training for an event like a 5k, and the race is going to be a 8am, get your body use to walking/running at that time of day.
Donâ€™t underestimate the value of a workout buddy or scheduled class! Both of these things will help you keep your commitment to yourself and your workout schedule.
Interlocking Chest Expansion:
This stretch will give you a great opening in the chest and shoulders while breaking up the tight tissue of the upper back. It is a perfect for someone that sits at a desk all day long!
Interlock your fingers behind you, straighten your arms and bring palms as close to touching as you can. Squeeze shoulder blades together and lift hands up as high as you can. Hold for 30 sec and perform 3-5 times throughout the day.
Want to increase the stretch even more?
Try adding a forward fold to your chest expansion. Bend your knees slightly as you hinge forward from your hips, allowing your arms to fall overhead.
Can’t interlock your hands in this position? Try holding onto an old tie or towel to increase your arm length, making the stretch more comfortable. Make sure to relax your head and neck.
The #1 exercise you should include in your fitness routine is core plank.
Core plank strengthens the abdominals and low back, which is commonly referred to as your core body. A strong core body will improve posture, reduce low back pain, and help keep the midsection toned.
How to do the exercise:
-place elbows right under shoulders and rest your forearms on the floor
-tuck your toes under and hold your body weight up with just your forearms and toes
-make sure your body is in a straight line (prevent your hips from going up or down)
Start out holding for 15 seconds and work up to 1 minute! You can do this at the end of your workout, walk, run, or just in between commercial breaks. Have your little one sit on your low back for added resistance!
This is one of the most common questions I get… Well technically the correct answer is both, but sometimes not everyone has the time, the know-how, and money to do both on a regular basis.Â So let’s break down the benefits of each type of exercise so you can better decide what’s best for you and most appealing to you!
What is strength training? Strength training means overloading the muscle and asking it to do something that is really hard for it to do. When you train the muscle like this, it breaks down the muscle fibers, and they repair themselves stronger than before. This can be done by using machines, free weights, resistance bands, stability balls, or your own body weight. It’s recommended to strength train the major muscle groups of the body 3 times per week.
Why bother strength training? Strength training tones and sculpts the muscles of the body (who doesnâ€™t want that), it increases your metabolism as muscle burns more calories than fat (another bonus!), helps you maintain strength (which we all lose as we age if we donâ€™t do something about it), and can help prevent osteoporosis.
What is cardiovascular exercise? Cardio = heart, vascular = blood vessels (veins and arteries). So cardiovascular exercise is any form of exercise that gets the heart rate up â€“ like walking fast, jogging, swimming, biking, aerobics class, etc.Â Itâ€™s recommended to complete 30 minutes of somewhat hard physical activity on most days of the week.
Why bother doing cardio? Cardiovascular exercise burns fat, reduces resting heart rate, reduces blood pressure and cholesterol, and increases insulin receptor sensitivity.
______________________________________________________________ So which one should I do?
The non-exerciser: The goal for you is to just start being active! If cardiovascular exercise sounds more appealing to you, then start here! If you would prefer to lift weights, then start here.Â Once you develop the habit of exercising regularly, start adding in the other form of exercise when you feel ready.
The regular exerciser: You should definitely be incorporating both forms of exercise so you donâ€™t get injured and to keep good variety so you donâ€™t get bored.Â Plus, you should be starting to add in flexibility training (yoga or stretching) too!
_______________________________________________________________ One note about strength training:
Most people do not strength train correctly!! They waste their time doing the exercising incorrectly so they donâ€™t get any results and possibly get injured. It is well worth your time and money to consult with a fitness professional to get you started on the right track.
One note about cardiovascular training:
Most people do not work hard enough to get the benefits described above! When you are doing your cardio, you should be able to carry on a conversation some of the time, but maybe not all of the time. You should be sweating! If you are a walker, you need to walk at a fairly quick pace or add in some good hills for it to really do some good.ï»¿