Although change is inevitable, adapting to it is not. But change is part of life, and successful adaptation often leads to triumph, while failure to adapt often leads to disappointment.
Pregnancy and fitness
Pregnancy presents one of the biggest physical changes in a woman’s life, and it interrupts a regular fitness regimen.
Women who stay physically active during pregnancy can maintain their level of fitness, while also enhancing their ability to handle the physical stresses involved in labor and delivery.
Unfortunately, there are no guidelines on what to do during this time, as each woman’s exercises should be individualized to fit her needs, considering her previous fitness level and stage of her pregnancy.
Even though there aren’t necessarily guidelines for a pregnant woman’s fitness plan, there are contraindications for the safety of the mother and unborn child.
Pregnant women are recommended to work out three times per week on nonconsecutive days. Aerobic activities like swimming, cycling and walking are appropriate for most expecting women. Those who participated in running programs prior to pregnancy may continue running, though they must reduce the intensity. The same applies to weight training.
Tips for exercising while pregnant
- Avoid exercises that require you to lie on your back for more than five minutes.
- Eat a nutritionally sound diet to maintain adequate glucose levels.
- Exercise for 30 minutes or less to avoid impairing blood flow to your uterus.
- When strength training, use appropriate weight, which will likely be lighter than pre-pregnancy weight.
- Stretch! Stretching, warming up and cooling down are crucial during pregnancy to help ease the body into and out of a workout, lowering the risk of injury.
- Water aerobics and swimming are great for pregnant women, considering the cardio benefits and the low risk of your body temperature rising too high.
- For core strength, make yoga a regular part of your routine.
- Use treadmills and ellipticals to replace outdoor walking and running. These machines place less stress on joints and let you control the terrain and intensity.
- Bodyweight squats can be very beneficial for pregnant women. If you decide to add weight to make it more challenging, try using a kettlebell to do goblet squats.
- Be aware of your body and its changes, and consult your obstetrician before undergoing any exercise routine.
Another life change: getting older
Older adults who want to maintain fitness and physical independence are encouraged by the International Sports Sciences Association to engage in regular exercise.
Recent studies have shown that regular exercise can prevent or, in some cases, correct so-called age-related conditions, and actually can provide older adults with the energy and fitness of someone 10 to 20 years younger.
Older adults should always receive medical clearance before embarking on any new training program. Strength programs using low to moderate intensity with high repetitions are recommended, with a frequency of two to three times per week, in conjunction with a cardiovascular program.
A proper training program for older adults can have major benefits. Recent research on the benefits of strength training shows the ability to increase muscle strength in even those over 80 years old, and findings have shown increase in bone density among older adults, along with reductions in cardiovascular risk factors.