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The most recommended sports during pregnancy 

Focus on the best activities to practice without risk during pregnancy.

Walking: to stay toned

Certainly the easiest activity, walking is recommended daily, at least 20 minutes each day. “Or 3 times a week for 45-minute sessions,” advises Marlène Barlier, midwife and teacher of pre-natal and post-natal Pilates at Cabinet Bien Naître in Vanves.
Its advantages : it has little impact on the joints and ligaments, generally tones the body and maintains endurance.
Precautions: be well paved and watch out for slippery trails.
When to practice At any term of pregnancy, from start to finish!
Or ? Where it pleases us, in the city, in the countryside, by the sea … preferably a relatively flat and not uneven path to avoid any risk of falling.

Cycling: to work on endurance

Whether on a bike ride (classic or electric), at home on an exercise bike or indoors on an elliptical trainer, pedaling is an activity without impact and therefore not traumatic for the joints over 30-minute sessions 2 to 3 times per week.

Its advantages : it improves cardio-respiratory capacity and endurance.

Precautions: Stay hydrated and make sure your heart rate isn’t too high (you should be able to talk without feeling short of breath).

When to practice From beginning to end. At the end of pregnancy, the size of the belly can however be a problem!

Or ? Outdoors on a bicycle, on good quality tracks with no steep drops and protected from cars. Indoors, in gyms close to home equipped with indoor bikes or ellipticals.

Aquafitness or swimming: to move lightly

Here is another very complete sport during pregnancy! Swimming, fitness in the pool (aquagym, aquabike, aquapilates, etc.) allows you to enjoy the relaxing properties and the feeling of lightness in the water. To be practiced 45 minutes, 2 to 3 times a week.
Its advantages : it strengthens the deep and superficial muscles, promotes blood circulation, eliminates tension or stress.
Precautions: certain strokes such as butterfly strokes are not recommended because they involve the rectus females (superficial muscles of the abdomen).
When to practice At any time during pregnancy.
Or ? In municipal swimming pools and sports clubs with swimming pools.

Pre-natal yoga: to relax body and mind

Accessible to all, even those who have never done yoga, pre-natal yoga gently accompanies during pregnancy, prepares for childbirth and beyond, when baby is born. Emeline Le Thiec, pre-natal and post-natal yoga teacher at Chez June in Nantes, explains its benefits.

Its advantages : it strengthens and maintains muscle capacity and it energizes the body. Pregnancy is accompanied by significant fatigue, “pre-natal yoga nourishes the body and restores energy”, observes the specialist. It improves flexibility. “During pregnancy, muscles become more tense and stretching is necessary to keep them long and flexible.” Pre-natal yoga reduces stress, linked to the changes induced by pregnancy. It sharpens concentration. “Yoga has a calming effect on the mind, it makes the body relax, with positive repercussions on the baby”. It relieves or even eliminates the ailments of pregnancy, such as back pain. It promotes better circulation. “The volume of blood increases in fact during pregnancy to meet the needs of the baby, making circulation more difficult.” It brings better alignment of the body. It helps to become aware of his changing body and to accept it. The experience of yoga shared with her unborn baby makes it possible to create a bond with him. It creates a sense of community. “Sharing the course and discussing with women who are going through the same experience can be reassuring,” adds Emeline Le Thiec.

Precautions: the yoga teacher recommends that women who wear a cerclage (medicalized closure of the cervix to avoid premature deliveries) to have “a very gentle practice or even not to practice at all according to the recommendations of the doctors”, even if adaptations are possible such as practice with a chair.
If you have a history of miscarriages, it is best to wait until the second trimester to start classes.

When to practice From the first trimester. “On the other hand, it will be necessary to start rather from the second trimester, if the first months are accompanied by pregnancy ailments (nausea, vomiting, severe fatigue)”, notes the yoga teacher. Pre-natal yoga can be practiced until the end of childbirth for the fittest.

Or ? In yoga studios and sports and wellness centers that offer prenatal yoga.

What about other yogas? If pre-natal yoga turns out to be one of the most suitable activities during pregnancy, yogis can also continue their usual practice. The teacher will modify the postures accordingly, knowing that the positions on the back and on the stomach are to be avoided. “Learning to recognize the sensations of your body is the best way to adjust your practice”, insists Emeline Le Thiec. “I guide my students by giving them the important indications for each posture but I tell them that it is always they who have the right answers and must listen to their bodies above all, their sensations. If they feel something that seems abnormal to them, they don’t hesitate to tell me and I help them to modify the posture ”.
There are nevertheless types of yoga to avoid, according to the specialist: yoga bikram (yoga in a room heated to 40 degrees), because “the body temperature of women already increases considerably during pregnancy” and yin yoga, not really. recommended because passive postures of a fairly long duration (4 to 7 minutes depending on the teachers) are not supported by material (cushions, blankets, bricks, etc.).

Two pre-natal yoga exercises to do at home

Back and leg stretch
This posture can be easily performed in the office or at home at any time during pregnancy. It allows to stretch the back of the legs and the back easily and relieves quickly.

  • Press both hands against a wall and pull your feet away from the wall to achieve a flat back.
  • The feet are placed directly under each hip or a little wider than the pelvis.
  • Do not open the ribs, think on the contrary to bring them together. Move the top of the skull away from the coccyx (bone at the end of the column).

Glute stretch
This stretching of the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus is strongly recommended for people with sciatica, a fairly common inconvenience in pregnant women.

  • Standing, place both hands against a wall.
  • Take your feet about a step away from the wall.
  • Cross one ankle (with the foot flex) on the opposite thigh and bend the knee of the ground leg. Then change legs to stretch the other buttocks.

Pre-natal Pilates, to improve posture and breathe well

In the pre-natal version, the method established by Joseph Pilates remains faithful to the main principles of this gentle technique centered on strengthening the deep muscles and controlling movement and breathing. The exercises make it possible to reconcile sporting activity and preparation for birth. It is practiced 2 to 3 times a week.

Its advantages : it strengthens deep muscles, improves breathing and breathing on a daily basis, develops concentration through work on postures and body awareness, works on balance, learns to strengthen and relax the perineum, a precious aid for childbirth and postpartum, develops self-confidence, knowledge and awareness of one’s body. This activity promotes relaxation, thanks in particular to relaxation at the end of the session. The movements are guided and explained so that they can be easily reproduced at home, in the delivery room or after delivery.

Precautions: make sure to practice with a qualified coach in prenatal Pilates and hydrate yourself well.

When to practice At any term of pregnancy.

Or ? In Pilates studios and some gyms offering classes for pregnant women, in some midwifery practices offering pre-natal Pilates classes (such as at Bien naître in Vanves).

3 pre-natal Pilates exercises to do at home

Small leg circles
This exercise works the gluteal muscles and engages the thigh muscles. It can occur in the first trimester of pregnancy.

  • Lie on your side, your body should be aligned. Lay his head on his arm. The upper hand is resting on the ground and perpendicular to the chest.
  • While exhaling, lift the upper leg to 40 centimeters from the ground, then slowly perform 5 small circles while inhaling in one direction and 5 small circles while exhaling in the other direction.
  • The perineum must be engaged (imagine restraining yourself from a pressing desire), the belly slightly tucked in.
  • The pelvis should remain stable and not tilt forwards or backwards.

Torsion of the spine

This exercise, performed in the second trimester, tones the back muscles and postural muscles.

  • Sitting on the mat, bend your legs and spread them apart to open your hips. It is possible to sit cross-legged. Then make a circle with his arms, in front of the chest. The spine should be well stretched and the shoulders should be kept low.
  • When exhaling, rotate the chest to the right. Return to the center while inhaling. Then do the same on the left.

Arm circles

This exercise, to be performed in the third trimester, strengthens the center of the body, shoulders and arms.

  • While standing, engage your perineum and tuck your stomach in slightly to engage your deep abdominals.
  • When exhaling, raise both arms parallel to the floor. On the inspiration, make 5 small circles in one direction on the expiration and 5 small circles in the other direction.
  • Movements should be precise and slow.

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