Pregnant & Powerful – benefits of exercising through pregnancy

Damien Hirst - pregnancy blog (500 pix)

Damien Hirst – The Virgin Mother at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Creating a life and growing a human is a mind-blowing miracle! In a study at Duke University the ultimate limit of human endurance has been calculated by scientists, who found that pregnant women are close to the maximum – now that’s powerful!

Three full-on trimesters of major anatomical and physiological changes, over 40 weeks… organs shift and get squished, the uterus can expand up to 20 times it’s normal size, body posture changes, ligaments and joints move… and then throw all the hormonal changes into the mix! Women and wondrous.

Watch this animation showing how a woman’s body changes and organs shift during pregnancy

With all of the above going on and your body being pushed close to it’s maximum, it’s a lot, to put it lightly. Finding the energy and motivation to move more than you have to can be tough… but the benefits of staying active and strong through pregnancy are so vast, that if you can, you most certainly should.

Would you enter a marathon and do no training in preparation? There may be a crazy few that might… but most of us would have to put the time, energy and effort in to go the distance. Labour is that marathon… you need to be fit and strong, physically and mentally to go the duration!

Exercising whilst pregnant is A-OK, so long as you’re given the go-ahead from your GP and/or midwife, you’re not suffering from any *contraindications that would mean it wasn’t advised (listed below), and you feel up to it. It doesn’t have to be intense and over the top, but equally it doesn’t mean you have to go so easy. Every pregnancy and person are different, and all exercises can be adapted to accommodate and work with any pregnancy related aches, pains and associated physiological changes.

The benefits of exercise… some of the many:

  • Reduce swelling of limbs, nausea, fatigue (as tired as you feel endorphins will give you a major energy boost).
  • Reduce the risk of pregnancy-induced hypertension and gestational diabetes.
  • Prevent excessive weight gain – you’re going to gain weight, in areas that you carry/hold weight, as well as bump and boobs… weight-loss isn’t the focus, staying strong and active is.
  • Reduce risk of diastasis recti (abdominal separation) – I’m going to write a separate blog on this, but stats say that around 60% of women have this during or after pregnancy, my experience is that most have it, and it’s totally normal and to be expected. But exercising and maintaining muscle / core strength throughout pregnancy massively helps to minimise this.
  • Reduces back, pelvic and pregnancy related pains.
  • Facilitates and supports labour – that marathon! Also supports with speedier recovery.
  • Improves posture, maternal and mental well-being, self-esteem and sleep.
  • Supports placental and foetal growth.

This list could go on…

Considerations and adaptions to be made…

Here’s a handful of considerations to be made and things to be avoided when pregnant and exercising. There are lost of considerations and adaptions and again this list could go on… lots of factors that would influence this, such as the individual, how experienced they are, how regularly they exercised before being pregnant and so on… The best thing to do is to seek advice from someone qualified, join classes that are pregnancy specific. Some points to note…

  • Consider the risk element of exercise – high impact / contact and extreme sports pose a higher risk element of things that could go wrong, and so are advised to be avoided.
  • Exercising in a supine position (lying flat on your back) after the first trimester is a no-no. There’s lots of core exercises you can do on your sides and all-fours, engaging your core with all exercises is key, not just through pregnancy.
  • Avoid jumping and any heavy rotation / twisting exercises as you move on to the latter stages of trimesters 2 and 3.
  • Avoid overexertion – it’s not a time to be beasting yourself to oblivion, heart rate increases by 10-15% just being pregnant, when exercising you should be able to talk and go no higher than 6/7 out of 10 RPE.
  • Running is OK if that’s your thing, but it will get to a point where running puts too much pressure on your pelvic floor – this will be a different point in pregnancy for everyone.
  • Lifting heavy weights is OK too – but the heavier you go the more intra-abdominal force you exert and in turn more pressure you place on your pelvic floor. Consider any risk elements too with certain exercises.
  • Stay hydrated and make sure you fuel right – drink plenty throughout, eat before, after and even during if you need to.
  • Have adequate rest in-between sets and as you need to throughout an exercise session.

Benefits far outweigh any risks and exercising through a healthy pregnancy is advised by all health professionals. In a time when you have little control on your body physiologically, be empowered and take back some control through exercise and those incredible endorphins; for body, bump and mind.

If you have any questions about exercising through pregnancy get in touch and ask… and if you’d like to join my Mum-to-Be Bootcamp or find out more about prenatal PT check out the links below for more info.

Kate x

Call Kate on: 07875584383

Email: hello@brooks-fitness.co.uk

Alternatively fill out the contact form below and Kate will be in touch.

LikeStickersSparkle You can also follow on Facebook, check out our page and give it the thumbs up: Facebook.com/BrooksFitnessPT


*Contraindications meaning exercise would not be advised, include:

  • Haemodynamically significant heart disease
  • Restrictive lung disease
  • Incompetent cervix
  • Multiple gestation
  • Persistent bleeding
  • Placenta previa (after 26 weeks)
  • Premature labour
  • Ruptured membranes
  • Pregnancy induced hypertension
  • Pre-eclampsia

Grab life by the boobs!

October is breast cancer awareness month, an annual campaign supported by all major breast cancer charities to increase awareness of the disease. To highlight the importance of checking your breasts regularly, promoting early detection of changes and offering information and support for those affected by breast cancer.

Breast cancer stats & info

  • Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in the UK.
  • 1 in 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer across the UK – there’s a good chance of recovery if it’s detected in its early stages.
  • A screening to check the breasts is called a mammogram – all women between the ages of 50-70 are invited for breast screening every 3 years.

Causes of breast cancer

The exact causes of breast cancer are not fully understood. However, there are certain factors known to increase the risk of breast cancer, these include:

  • Age – the risk increases as you get older;
  • a family history of breast cancer;
  • a previous diagnosis of breast cancer;
  • a previous benign breast lump;
  • being overweight or obese;
  • drinking alcohol.

Click this link to read more about the causes of breast cancer

Get clued up on the signs and symptoms…

  • A new lump or area of thickened tissue in either breast that was not there before;
  • a change in the size or shape of one or both breasts;
  • bloodstained discharge from either of your nipples;
  • a lump or swelling in either of your armpits;
  • dimpling on the skin of your breasts;
  • a rash on or around your nipple;
  • a change in the appearance of your nipple, such as becoming sunken into your breast.

Click this link to see further info on the NHS website

Give your sisters a squeeze

Get into the habit of checking your breasts regularly – be breast aware and get to know what’s normal for you; so that you’re more likely spot changes and quickly…

Check out the Coppafeel website for lots of information on how to check your breasts – you can sign-up for regular boob check reminders too!

Have a watch of this Coppafeel video on how to check your boobs

Preventing breast cancer

As the causes of breast cancer are not fully understood, it’s not possible to know if it can be prevented. If you’re at increased risk of developing the condition, some treatments are available to reduce the risk.

Studies have looked at the link between breast cancer and diet. Although there are no definite conclusions, there are benefits for women who: maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, have a low intake of saturated fat and reduce or stop drinking alcohol.

It’s been suggested that regular exercise can reduce your risk of breast cancer by as much as a third. Regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle can also improve the outlook for people affected by breast cancer.

How can exercise help after your diagnosis and as part of recovery?

  • Exercise can help recovery from negative side effects of cancer and cancer treatments.
  • Patients who exercise regularly after cancer treatments have a better quality of life, have a lower risk of side effects and have a lower risk of the cancer returning.
  • Exercise can help survivors regain their ability to perform activities of daily living.
  • Exercise can reduce stress and fatigue
  • Exercise is social and can help normalise life, helping to prevent isolation, build confidence and strength in mind and body.

Over the summer I have been studying to further my knowledge, qualifications and areas of expertise, and have successfully completed a Level 4 qualification in cancer rehabilitation through exercise referral. This means I am now able to offer specialist personal training to clients that have been diagnosed with cancer both prehab (before any treatment) and rehab (after treatment) providing they have been given the go ahead by their medical specialist.

It’s vital that after a diagnosis of cancer any exercise intervention is prescribed by a qualified professional and is tailored and individualised to meet the needs of each client; support, guidance and prescription of suitable exercises is paramount.

If you have any questions or would like further information about this specialist exercise service I offer, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Ruth x


Useful information & links

Information throughout this blog has been taken from websites listed below. Follow the links for further information about breast cancer:

macmillan.org.uk

NHS

Coppafeel.org

If you notice any changes to you breasts or have any concerns, you MUST contact your GP and get it checked out ASAP… no hesitation or delay!

Call Ruth on: 07891092893

Email us: hello@brooks-fitness.co.uk

Alternatively fill out the contact form below and Ruth will be in touch.

You can also follow on Facebook, check out our page and give it the thumbs up: Facebook.com/BrooksFitnessPT


Pre & Post natal Bootcamp FAQ’s

I’ve been asked a fair few questions about my pre and post natal bootcamps over the last year… so I thought I’d write an FAQ blog to answer some of the most frequently asked questions…

If you have a question that I haven’t answered here, please don’t hesitate to get in touch to ask… there’s no such thing as a daft question! Ask away…

Prenatal – Mum-to-Be Bootcamp

Is it OK to exercise when pregnant?

A massive YES… so long as you don’t have any complications/contraindications (haemodynamically significant heart disease, restrictive lung disease, incompetent cervix, multiple gestation, persistent bleeding, placenta previa (after 26 weeks), premature labour, ruptured membranes, pregnancy induced hypertension or pre-eclampsia), and most importantly you feel up to it – then exercise is A-OK! More than OK… it’s so beneficial for you and baby. Staying strong and active through pregnancy can help reduce the associated aches and pains (hips/back), helps you to stay strong physically and mentally, gives you an energy boost (as tired as you feel, you will feel energised and empowered after a workout – endorphins are literally amazing!), you’ll be strong for labour (you need energy and strength for that marathon you’re going to endure), you’ll recover from labour quicker/better, generally speaking, (the fitter, stronger, more active you are, the quicker you recover from most things your body is put through). If I had a £1 for every time a mum said she wished she’d trained through pregnancy or will be doing for the next… I would be very wealthy! 😉

When can I start classes?

After your 12-week scan, as before you begin there is a form that must be completed by yourself and signed by your GP or midwife to give the OK to exercise. I’ll email over forms once you get in touch to say you’d like to take part.

Are all women at the same stage of pregnancy in classes?

No… not always, women are at different stages and that is OK, nice in lots of ways. So that you can share the journey, your experiences and support each other throughout. All exercises can be/are modified and adapted for your stage and ability.

I haven’t exercised in a while; will I be able to do it?

Yes… no question or doubts about it… all exercises are modifiable; I always offer variations and adaptions to make exercises easier or harder. Everyone works within their own comfort levels and abilities. I demonstrate all exercises and give technique pointers and tips throughout (a lot… you’ll hear me talk about posture and engaging core non-stop 😊).

Bootcamp sounds intense… are classes military style?

Not at all, there’s no crawling around army style or shouting of orders from me. No high-impact or fast paced, which isn’t suitable for pregnancy. These sessions focus on strength predominantly, using a variety of different equipment, weights and body weight; all of which can be adapted for all abilities, with different weights/exercises etc. We focus on building/maintaining strength through the posterior chain (muscles at the back of the body), core and pelvic floor. You get a good workout, that is completely appropriate for pregnancy.

What do I need to bring / wear to classes?

Comfortable and suitable exercise/gym wear and trainers – there are some great brands that do maternity gym wear, equally supermarket kit is blummin good… ask many people and they will tell you I am Tesco’s biggest fan at the minute 😊. Bring a towel and water bottle with you to class, to ensure you stay hydrated (I go on about drinking plenty of water a lot too!).

Postnatal – Mum & Baby / Mum & Toddler / Buggy Bootcamps

What age and post natal stage are classes suitable for?

  • Mum & Baby Bootcamp – for mums with babies aged 6 weeks+ (once you’ve been signed off and given the OK to exercise) to crawlers.
  • Mum & Toddler Bootcamp – for mums with crawlers and toddlers on the move.
  • Buggy Bootcamp – for mums/dads/grandparents/carers anyone with babies aged 6 weeks+ (once you’ve been signed off and given the OK to exercise). This is an  outdoor sessions with your wee-ones in buggies or baby carriers.

How soon after having baby can I exercise and join classes?  

When you have been signed off by your GP or midwife, this is usually around 6-12 weeks depending on whether you had a normal or C-section delivery, and if you had any complications. Most importantly however, it’s when you feel up to it… don’t put pressure on yourself or start too soon.

I’m so unfit; I’m going to wait until I get fitter or lose weight to join classes?

This is something I have heard a million times, and not just from new mums, but from so many people that want to start exercising or going to the gym. There truly is no need for this or to think this way. Every exercise can be modified for all abilities and fitness levels, equally there is zero pressure in class, not from me or anyone else in there. It’s a supportive and totally relaxed environment. Everyone there is focused on their own workout. All shapes, sizes, abilities, fitness and experience levels… all of my classes are an easy-going, informal, no pressure atmosphere. Take a minute and rest as and when you need to, work at your own pace, focus on you – always!

What shall I bring with me to class?

The kitchen sink… everything and anything you need for you and baby. Water bottle and towel for you; toys, drinks, snacks (to use as bribes for wee-ones 😉). I lay out mats for babies to lie / play on, but by all means you can bring play mats too. Some mums also bring Bumbo seats to sit babies up and others leave babies in prams and car seats. Bring whatever you feel you’ll need, always better to over prepare, fill the boot and then you’ve got all scenarios covered.

What happens if my wee-one cries / kicks-off 😉 in class?

It’s highly likely that this will happen, all mums experience a meltdown… either in the first session, few sessions or at some point – it’s completely fine, nothing to worry or stress about! I’m there to help too, when I’m not demonstrating exercises, I’m entertaining / cuddling babies and toddlers, so that you can get a workout. If you need to take five to comfort or feed baby, that’s fine too. We go with the flow and make it work… believe me when I say it is a relaxed and supportive atmosphere, all other mums muck-in too and share the snacks (best baby bribes).

Buggy Bootcamp specific FAQ’s

What happens if/when it rains?

If it is a bit drizzly, we will do the workout outside; it’s so nice being outside in the fresh air and greenery, amazing for well-being, mind and body. If it is torrential, we try to take the session inside / undercover if venue / space is available. If it was ever beyond torrential, Kate will cancel the session and give as much notice as possible.

Do I need a special type of pram/buggy?

No, any pram/buggy is fine to use. We don’t run with them and so any is fine to use. There are paths all around the park and we only go on the grass when it’s dry. Just bring a rain cover and layers/blankets for babies, so that they are snug whatever the weather.

What do I need to bring / wear to exercise outside?  

Wear comfortable exercise clothes, light/warm layers that you can add/remove as and when you need to, a waterproof in case it rains, sunglasses (because the weather changes at the drop of a hat), suitable/comfortable trainers for outdoor use.

What facilities are there at the park?

The facilities and setting are fab, which is why I went for and love this location!

I can’t stress enough how relaxed all of my classes are… I’m easy-going, friendly and try my best to make classes enjoyable and fun. There’s no pressure in any class, you work within your own abilities and we just go with the flow. All exercises are suitable for pre or post natal stage, and all exercises are modifiable for ability – you CAN do it and we always make it work. I encourage the social aspect too; classes are as much about meeting other pregnant women and new mums to share the journey and make friends as they are the exercise. We have a closed Bootcamp social Facebook group for organising nights and group trips out (minus babies and exercise gear).

If you have any questions that I haven’t answered here, please do get in touch and ask away…

Kate x

Call Kate on: 07875584383

Email: hello@brooks-fitness.co.uk

Alternatively fill out the contact form below and Kate will be in touch.

LikeStickersSparkle You can also follow on Facebook, check out our page and give it the thumbs up: Facebook.com/BrooksFitnessPT


Exercise Referral – health-related fitness

Exercise referral is a qualification specialising in health-related fitness. Many GP’s and health professionals are now prescribing exercise, as well as or in many cases instead of, medication. Referrals are then made and passed on to specialist exercise referral fitness professionals, who then devise tailored exercise programmes specific to an individual’s needs.

The benefits of exercise are profound, it’s acknowledged that there is a positive relationship between exercise and the reduction in developing chronic diseases and supporting living and coping with existing conditions. People of all ages can benefit from improved health and quality of life by taking part in regular physical activity, which in turn can help reduce the risk of major chronic diseases, such as:

Cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease: Physical activity at an appropriate intensity helps reduces the risk and can slow down the progression of cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease. It helps to improve the function of your heart and circulatory system.

High cholesterol: Physical activity and exercise has a positive effect on lowering total cholesterol; high cholesterol is a major factor for developing angina and heart disease. Exercise helps to increase your levels of good cholesterol.

High blood pressure: There are many factors that can contribute to elevated blood pressure such as high BMI, obesity, poor diet and inactivity. Physical activity will improve circulatory health which will help to lower blood pressure.

Strokes and neurological conditions: Physical inactivity is a risk factor for strokes, exercising can help prevent stokes. Aerobic exercise has been found to promote cognitive recovery in stroke survivors and increase blood flow to the brain. Exercise can help prevent neurological conditions and support people living with existing conditions, it also helps improve memory, which is something we could all do with! 

Diabetes type 1 & 2: Physically active people are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, exercise can help people living with type 2 diabetes manage the condition and avoid further health complications. Insulin dependent diabetics will benefit from exercise as it makes insulin more effective.

Mental health and well-being: There’s a strong link with being physically active and having good mental well-being, exercise releases the bodies endorphins that naturally make you feel better. Exercise can increase self-esteem, increase your energy levels and positively change your mood. Exercise can help us cope better with life’s stresses.

Obesity: Obesity puts people at increased risk of developing chronic diseases. Exercise can help with weight management and reduce these risks. Excessive body fat puts stress on the body’s internal organs, bones and joint structures. Exercising helps decrease body fat, burns calories and helps increase your self-control, which will help you implement and adhere to long-term change.

Arthritis and osteoporosis: Exercise promotes production of synovial fluid which will help lubricate your joints. Exercise also helps reduce pain and stiffness in the joints and increase flexibility and range of movement. As we age our bones can become weak and decrease in density, exercise can help decrease muscle wastage. Resistance exercise will help strengthen at risk sites, improving strength, balance and posture which will help prevent falls in later life.

Top tips to make a change:  

  • Aim to spend less time sedentary – sit less and move more!
  • Stay as physically active as you can
  • Stay socially active with friends, family and within your community
  • Get regular check-ups to ensure everything is running as it should, you might catch problems before they take hold
  • Eat a healthy, well balanced diet and stay hydrated
  • Get the correct amount of sleep your body needs
  • Make small manageable changes, gradually increasing activity levels

Take care

Taking care of yourself is crucial! Be active, live well, do what you can to minimise risks of chronic diseases, and exercise to help manage and improve existing conditions. Government guidelines say we should be doing 150 minutes of exercise per week to include cardiovascular exercise, muscular strength and endurance and flexibility. A good way to approach this is to do 30 minutes of activity 5 times per week.

There are lots of exercise referral schemes across Manchester, most local authorities run these schemes. I specialise in this area of exercise and offer this service in personal training; alongside work I do for a number of referral schemes. If you have a health-related condition and feel this is something you could benefit from, speak to your GP and get in touch for more information – click this link to head over to my exercise referral PT page to find out more about specilist PT services.

Ruth x


Useful Information

The British Heart Foundation is my go-to website, it has excellent free advice and information on a variety of conditions bhf.org.uk.


SOCIAL SWITCH-OFF!

Summer’s here… wahoo! Hands up who’s off on their jollies soon? We are!! 😊

Holidays are a time to switch-off, relax (as much as you can if you have kids 😉) and go off-grid! But how off-grid will you go… when you always have your phone to hand?

We live in a world where our world is now in the palm of our hands, we can do pretty much everything at the touch of a button! As you put your out of office on and that smirky-smile appears across your face as you skip out the door… consider having a total digital detox for a wee while too.

Here’s 3 reasons why…

Disconnect to reconnect

Reconnect with the real world; interactions with people, friends, family, in-person are priceless! We are so obsessed with capturing the action on camera and sharing for the masses to see and for our own online memories, that we are only really focussed on ourselves, our social media pages, the perfect post, pic for the gram (taking a hundred pics for the perfect shot), to show our best bits!

I’m not implying social is all bad, it has its benefits for sure… I’m sharing this piece on my business page and it is great for that reason… but as the saying goes the best moments don’t make it to social media. Make memories and then tell people in person about them. Remember the days of the disposable camera, the best bit was not knowing what the hell you had captured on film until you got them printed, and what a laugh it was looking through them… worst shots ever, no filters, funny! Take your snaps and go with the first one… don’t feel pressure to share all, with all, in an instant.

Ease anxiety and RELAX

Ease off the emails… get out of work and everyday life mode for a while, it’ll do you wonders. Because we can do work and life from anywhere (all times of day), do we ever really switch off? So many communications channels to check a hundred times a day and no real reason to not reply… but there is… you are on holiday, you have got away to get some all-important downtime… so down ALL the tools and kick-back and truly RELAX! Put your ‘out of office’ on ALL channels! Read a book, build a sandcastle, enjoy a cocktail or two… let the ocean breeze put your mind at ease! 😊

Feel the freedom – be present 

The fomo factor has got a grip on us all… we don’t want to miss a thing, people are posting on multiple channels, multiple times per day and we want to be up-to-speed with it all! We know everything about everyone on social media, don’t we? The highlights that people want us to see anyways… we feel like we have to post, share and be part of the social scene to be in the know, to be connected, socially. It’s tiring trying to keep up… keep up with everything that is going on with everyone else, posting everything that’s going on with ourselves… so many channels to share and see, so many times per day… so stressful! Be free…

peace out 350 pix

PEACE OUT! You’ll hear from us in a week…