Pregnancy and water sports: benefits, exercises and material
Physical activity and aerobic exercise during an uncomplicated pregnancy are highly recommended. This good habit maintains or improves physical fitness, cardiorespiratory function, psychological well-being and reduces the risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle. It also has positive effects on the foetus. It is advisable to wait until after the first three months of pregnancy and get the approval of your gynaecologist, who is usually also responsible for issuing the necessary certificate in gyms or swimming pools.
The most recommended activities during pregnancy are aquatics and walking.
1. Water sports
Of the water activities that are most often recommended are swimming and aquagym.
- Water allows you to take advantage of the absence of gravity and therefore feel less heavy and tired. The perceived body weight is about 1/6 of the actual weight, which is an advantage especially in the last months, when the belly is heavier and can cause back pain and sciatica. This allows many movements to be performed with less effort, without risking joint trauma.
- Good results are achieved in terms of muscle toning of the back, pelvis and perineum, the parts of the body most affected by pregnancy and childbirth.
- Water has a natural massaging action that stimulates blood circulation in the lower limbs, one of the areas most prone to venous and lymphatic stagnation. It therefore reduces the risk of fluid retention. Its pressure also helps to relieve swelling of the ankles and legs, which is very common in pregnancy.
- The relaxing aspect of these activities cannot be overlooked. From an emotional point of view, in fact, it has been proven that moving in the water stimulates the production of endorphins, the hormones that infuse well-being.
- Aquatic activity increases the oxygenation of the mother’s blood, which is automatically transported to the foetus, which receives better nourishment.
Swimming helps to optimise the respiratory system, which is under pressure from the growing uterus. This discipline also involves reducing the load on the spine and the stiffness of the sacro-uterine ligaments, which cause pain in the pelvic area. Avoid jumping and diving. As for the swimming strokes, there are no particular indications, although freestyle is always a good option for a pregnant woman, the important thing is to avoid excessive torsion of the trunk. Breaststroke is one of the most recommended, as it is less tiring and helps to relax the chest muscles and contract the back muscles, counteracting the tendency to misalignment of the shoulders, spine and pelvis, which is very common in pregnancy. It should be avoided in case of symphysis pubis problems. With the help of tools, such as pull buoys, neoprene gloves and paddles, you can concentrate only on your legs or arms.
If your pregnancy is progressing well and your gynaecologist allows it, you can safely do Aquagym throughout your pregnancy, 2-3 times a week. It is important to always listen to your body, if you feel weak you should stop and relax for a few minutes before resuming the activity. Make sure you drink as soon as you have finished your workout, because even in water you lose a lot of fluid.
In addition to basic products for water sports, such as flip-flops, goggles, caps and swim caps, there are also models of maternity swimwear that allow the mother-to-be to swim and move around in technical products and at the same time meet her morphological needs.
Swimming socks are also recommended to prevent slipping or warts and to ensure hygiene.
4. Accessories for aquagym
In the sea or in the pool, there are several exercises that can be done, starting with walking. But the use of supplements will improve the results of the water activity due to the resistance generated during the movements. This is the case with dumbbells for the arms and upper body, ankle supports for the legs and pool floats, designed for support in the water and for exercises involving floating.
5. Exercises for the glutes
In waist-deep water, keep one leg firmly on the ground and lift the other leg sideways for a few repetitions, alternating between them. Ankle braces can be used to improve the result. Thanks to the friction of the water, this movement will help to shape the buttocks and legs, even in difficult areas such as the inner thigh and knee.
6. Exercises for the pectorals
In the water, shoulder-width apart, extend your arms outward and press your palms together as you move the water and exert force. The resistance of aquagym dumbbells or wrist straps can perfect the movement.
7. Abdominal exercises
In waist-high water, using your lower abdominals, lift both legs in front of you. Lean with your back on the edge or on the float whilst doing the “bicycle style” or lifting one leg and then the other.