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The Pregnancy Exercise Book - A Step-By-Step Pragramme for Achieving Optimal Fitness Throughout the Trimesters

by Judy Difiore

listed in women's health

[Image: The Pregnancy Exercise Book - A Step-By-Step Pragramme for Achieving Optimal Fitness Throughout the Trimesters]

As a mother currently expecting my second child, I have been very keen to find a decent pregnancy exercise book. Therefore, it was a pleasure to review JudyDiFiore's new book.

Unlike most exercise books, which can be very fiddly to keep open whilst exercising, this book has a convenient folding base and 'flip chart' design, allowing the book to stand up on its own on any suitable surface – even at eye level. Each exercise is on its own page, so you don't have to keep turning the page whilst in the middle of a movement.

The book is divided into four sections: the Warm-Up, to get the body into the mood for exercise; the Aerobics section, which builds stamina; the Strengthening & Toning exercises to increase muscle fitness; and finally the Stretching & Relaxing section, which helps reduce stiffness.

She then explains the principles behind the workout: discussing the frequency of exercise and the intensity required, as well as safety issues. The exercises are graded according to intensity, with specific advice being given for attaining different levels of intensity – so that you can always work out at a level you find comfortable.

The author first gives an overview of each section of the book, and also includes cautionary notes, warning when exercise should be supended or stopped altogether.

Also included are mini-programmes devised by the author to allow the reader to target specific body areas, or to 'tailor-make' the workout to meet individual needs.

The author then explains the hormonal and physical changes experienced during pregnancy, and disusses the importance of those vital pelvic floor exercises – which are invaluable during pregnancy, during labour and after the birth – and the importance of maintaining good posture as your centre of gravity changes. Finally, she gives detailed advice for the suitability, level, potential dangers and benefits of exercise during each trimester.

The Warm-Up

Warm-up exercises are vital to the workout, as they gradually ease your body into movement and reduce the risk of injury, which is particularly present during pregnancy due to the effects of the pregnancy hormones. The warm-up routine starts with postural advice to ensure correct spinal alignment for all the exercises, and then includes simple warm-up exercises such as the Shoulder Roll, Knee Bends, Knee Raises and Marching On The Spot to prepare the body for the main workout.

Aerobic Exercise

The Aerobic Exercise portion has been designed to be safe throughout pregnancy, and the author has gone to a great deal of trouble to give advice on how to increase or decrease the intensity of each workout depending on how you're feeling, and to give cautionary notes with appropriate advice should you start feeling unwell or should anything untoward happen. These exercises start off at a reasonably low intensity level, and increase gradually to more energetic exercises such as the Travelling Shuffle or the Stride Walk.

Strengthening & Toning

This section is designed to increase the strength and endurance of muscles for pregnancy and after the birth. This section includes exercises for almost every major muscle group, from the chest and arms to the legs, pelvic floor and abdomen – and I found this to be an extremely effective and comprehensive workout for all the muscle groups that are necessary to cope with the burdens of pregnancy, breastfeeding and caring for a baby.

Stretching & Relaxing

Finally, the Stretching & Relaxing section contains appropriate 'cooling-down' exercises to follow the workout; although the Relaxation exercises have been designed primarily to follow the stretches, they can also be used to help you unwind at any time. The Stretches focus on the muscle groups affected by the workout, whereas the Relaxation exercises allow you to 'centre' yourself again after a workout by gently manipulating varous body parts to ease cramps and discomfort.

All-in-all, I found this to be a very thorough, effective workout programme, and I was particularly impressed by the clarity of instruction given for each exercise. I believe that this programme would be highly beneficial not only during pregnancy, but also as preparation for labour and to help the body return to normality after the birth. I would heartily recommend this book to any woman experiencing a normal pregnancy.

Kathleen Finch

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