Women’s Health & Fitness Day is celebrated on the last Wednesday in September and is the nation’s largest annual health promotion event for women of all ages!
Exercising, having a well-balanced diet and getting medical check-ups regularly should be a part of every woman’s lifestyle. Women tend to brush their needs aside and take care of the needs of others. But the truth is, you must love and care for yourself first before you can truly love and care for others!
YOU and YOU ONLY have the power to make a change in your own journey! We all deserve to live a happy and healthy life!
Remember: We only get one body to live in, make it last a lifetime! [And have fun while doing so!]
Unfortunately, running safety for women is a very real topic. Sydney Sutherland, Sarmistha Sen, Wendy Karina Martinez, Mollie Tibbets, Karina Vetrano, Vanessa Marcotte— These are women’s names you may have heard over the last several years that were attacked and killed during their runs.
A 2017 survey revealed that 43% of women experienced harassment while running [58% for women under 30.] With only 4% of men reporting harassment. The survey also found that 30% of women reported being followed by a harasser on foot, by car or bike.
Here are some ways to improve safety during your run...
Run with a personal safety device:
Wear only one ear bud at a time or without music entirely
Always run in familiar areas but change up your routes and times that you go out for runs
Purchase a RoadID, which lists your name, important medical info and emergency contacts
Keep your cell phone on you to call for help if needed and trust your gut— report suspicious activity immediately!
Send someone your running route or share your location with someone you trust
Run as much as you can with your dog, running buddy or local running group
Try your best to avoid running at night but if you do:
Always stay alert on your run and trust your instincts!!!
Regular physical activity is recommended and encouraged for healthy pregnant women! Studies demonstrate that moderate-intensity exercise for at least 20-30 minutes on most days or all days of the week can be beneficial for moms-to-be.
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology: “Physical activity in pregnancy has minimal risks and has been shown to benefit most women, although some modification to exercise routines may be necessary because of normal anatomic and physiologic changes and fetal requirements. Women with uncomplicated pregnancies should be encouraged to engage in aerobic and strength-conditioning exercises before, during, and after pregnancy.”
What are some of those physiologic changes that happen during pregnancy?
The benefits of pregnant women and exercise may include maintained or improved fitness, healthy weight gain, decreased risk of gestational hypertension and diabetes, shortened first stage labor and reduced risk of C-Section.
Let’s talk about Running!
Strengthening and improving the neuromuscular control of your deeper abdominal muscles and pelvic floor is important during and after pregnancy. The deeper abdominal muscles help to support your spine while the pelvic floor muscles help provide support for your pelvic organs and growing baby, maintain continence and assist with labor, delivery and recovery.
These exercises can be performed as a stand-alone daily routine or as a warm-up to your workout!
Slightly tilt your hips towards you without lifting your glutes off the table.
Hold 5 seconds x 20
Pelvic Floor Contract-Relax
To tighten your pelvic floor, contract as if attempting to stop the flow of urine.
Hold 3-5 seconds x 10
Be sure to fully relax your pelvic floor following each repetition. Following the exercise completely, lay on your left side for 5 minutes to fully relax.
Hooklying 90/90 Abdominal Bracing
Lift one leg up to a 90/90 position and use the same side hand to push into the thigh, creating an isometric contraction.
Hold 5 seconds x 10 each side
While in a quadruped position, find your neutral spine, brace your abdominals and raise one arm and your opposite leg.
2 x 10 each side
Be sure to maintain alignment of your spine and do not allow your hip to tilt upwards.
While on your forearms and toes, brace your abdominals and hold this position. If it is more comfortable, keep your knees on the floor instead.
20-30 seconds x 5
Check out if there are any Women’s Health Physical Therapists in your area to evaluate your abdominal and pelvic floor strength and create a plan of care during or after your pregnancy.
After your first trimester, be sure to only remain on your back for very short periods of time and monitor for signs of dizziness or nausea.
Walking, 20-60 minutes per day
*Bonus: Walking later in your pregnancy may induce labor!
In the final trimester, it’s been all about bringing it back to basics! Keeping it simple with walking and light resistance training to maintain cardiovascular health and strength in order to preserve fitness levels and prepare for labor, delivery and recovery.
Use the Rate of Perceived Exertion to assess how you feel: A self-reported guidance measure of how hard you are working during exercise.
Benefits: Helps maintain strength and cardiovascular fitness, improves stamina for labor, helps maintain a healthy weight, improves posture, decreases anxiety and stress, decreases discomforts associated with pregnancy, improves immune function and helps to regulate sleep.
Reasons to cease exercise: Dizziness, light-headedness, breathlessness, chest pain, headache, muscle weakness, contractions, changes in vision, muscle weakness, change in fetal movements, calf swelling or pain, bleeding or leakage.
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology states that, “after having a baby, you should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week.”
Benefits of Exercise following Pregnancy: Helps to improve and maintain cardiovascular fitness, restore muscle strength, increase energy levels, reduce stress, helps with weight loss and improves psychological well-being.
Rules of Thumb during Recovery:
And most important... enjoy the newborn snuggles as much as possible!!!
PART 1 of 2: Prior to your first run...
Build Your Base!
Your abdominal and pelvic floor stability is important to return to running safely.
Pelvic Tilts, Hooklying 90/90 Abdominal Bracing, Bird Dogs, Planks
Lower Extremity Strength
Your glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves all help to carry the body through each stride.
Squats, ️Single Leg Bridges,️ Single Leg RDLs, ️Split Squats, ️Calf Raises
The elastic properties within your muscles and tendons are a key component of running.
Squat Jumps, ️Single Leg Jumps, ️A-Skips, Drop Freeze Box Jumps
PART 2 of 2: When it’s time to pound the pavement...
Slow & steady wins this race!
Dynamic activities that prepare your body for the demands of running by increasing blood flow, heart rate and muscle temperature.
Butt Kicks, High Knees, Frankenstein Walks, Walking Calf Raises, Leg Swings Side to Side, Leg Swings Forward and Back, Hip Openers, Arm Circles
Start with a Run/Walk program
Allow your body to slowly adapt and the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal system to adjust to running after pregnancy.
Walk:Run ratio of 2:1
For example: Walk for 2 minutes and run for 1 minute then repeat.
Progress to Walk:Run ratio of 1:1
For example: Walk for 1 minute and run for 1 minute then repeat.
Progress to Walk:Run ratio of 1:2
For Example: Walk for 1 minute and run for 2 minutes then repeat.
Eventually progress to returning to runs without blocks of walking.
Listen to your body and progress through these steps over several weeks based on how you feel.
Static Stretching to improve flexibility and decrease muscle soreness.
Quadriceps, Gastrocnemius, Soleus, Hip Flexors, Hamstrings, Gluteus, Piriformis, Thoracic Spine
Every pregnancy, labor and delivery are different. Be sure to consult with your OBGYN if you are pregnant or just recently gave birth to find out if walking, running, strength training or other types of exercise are right for you.
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