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The three best exercises for pregnancy fitness

Pregnancy and post-natal fitness specialist fitness Dr Joanna Helcké talks to M&B about the three most important fitness moves for pregnant women - core exercises that will help you through your pregnancy and into motherhood. Find out more about Dr Joanna Helcké here.


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Hand hovers

I always hear mums-to-be say things like "I have no abdominals left" and I always say "yes you do and we're going to work them now!" The hand hover exercise helps keep the deepest layer of abdominals gently toned in pregnancy: 1. Set yourself up in a box position with your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees under your hips. 2. Gently draw your bump inwards and upwards as if giving your baby a hug. 3. Now hover one hand an inch or two above the floor, breathe and hold before swapping over to the other side. 4. When you swap sides be sure to use your abdominals to keep your centre really still and stable.
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This is a fantastic all round exercise and is ideal for both during pregnancy and after. It helps with posture and keeps the deepest layer of abdominals toned. NB If you are suffering from pelvic girdle pain (SPD) then you must only do the arm movements. 1. Set yourself up in a box position with your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees under your hips. 2. Extend one arm in front of you but keep the fingers lightly touching the floor. Make sure that you are drawing your abdominals inwards so as to avoid arching your lower back. 3. Keep your back level when you lift your arm. Breathe and hold the position. 4. Swap over and lift the other arm. Think about lengthening through your back and arm. 5. Now repeat this process with each leg: lift up your leg without arching your lower back, keeping your toes lightly on the floor; do not tilt your pelvis upwards; breathe and hold the position. 6. Now put these two moves together and lift opposite arm and leg, following the same advice.
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Resistance band seated pull downs

One of the best things to do during pregnancy is keep the postural muscles strong as this will help stave off back pain. 1. Sit tall on a birthing ball or chair with good posture: shoulders back and down, neck long, chest lifted and abdominals pulled gently inwards. 2. Hold the resistance band above your head with arms wide, chest open and knuckles pointing upwards so that the wrists are aligned. 3. Now lower your elbows to shoulder height, whilst keeping the hands directly above your elbows and squeezing your shoulder blades together. 4. The elbows will be more or less at a 90º angle and the chest is wide open. 5. Lift and lower in a slow and controlled manner for 10 repetitions. Rest and then have another go if you wish.

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