Great pregnancy exercise: Dancing

The benefits of dancing during pregnancy

Dancing is a fantastic and fun exercise during pregnancy! Not only do you get the thrill of moving your body to music you love, but it will keep you flexible while toning your muscles. You can get an aerobic workout from any fast-paced dance, or stretch and maintain muscle tone when you hold positions in ballet.

For maximum benefit, dance for at least 20 minutes three times a week, whether it’s in your living room or in class.

Tips for the first trimester

Dance as you normally would, but keep a few precautions in mind. Remember to warm up beforehand to prepare your joints and muscles for exercise, which also builds up your heart rate slowly. Skipping a warm-up could strain ligaments and joints, leading to injury. Adjust the intensity of your dancing according to how you feel. A good rule of thumb: Slow down if you can’t comfortably carry on a conversation.

Keep your workout low-impact by keeping one foot on the floor at all times, substituting marching or stepping side to side for jumps. Consuelo Faust, mother of two and director of Rhythm and Motion, a San Francisco dance studio, says pregnancy isn’t the time to go for the gusto. “Be aware of your body’s limitations and listen to the cues,” she says.

Tips for the second and third trimesters

Your center of gravity shifts as your belly gets bigger, so pay extra attention to your balance. Tracey Mallett, a certified personal trainer and fitness instructor in South Pasadena, California, suggests steering clear of hip-hop (the jerky movements aren’t ideal), cheerleading, and ballroom dancing once the size of your belly makes dancing with a partner difficult. In general, says Mallett, “in any kind of dance you do, eliminate jumping, jerky movements, backbends, big hip movements, and lots of rotation.” These add unwanted stress on joints and ligaments and increase the risk for injury and falls.

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