Gemma Atkinson isn’t known for light, half-hour workouts and a laissez-faire attitude to exercise, but with her first child on the way with boyfriend Gorka Marquez, even she has had to revise her routine.
The 34-year-old appeared in a video posted to her Instagram, laying down a spirited workout to the sound of Fifth Harmony’s That’s My Girl.
Looking relaxed but focused, Atkinson breezed through squats, curls and side leg raises – while wearing a heart rate monitor, to ensure that her heartbeat stayed in the ‘safe zone’ for both mother and child.
Safety, she was quick to pinpoint, comes first. "I’ve been cleared by my midwife, doctor and Evil Steve," she said, referring her famously punitive personal trainer, "and before even considering exercise when pregnant YOU MUST ABSOLUTELY GET THE GO AHEAD FROM PROFESSIONALS."
Atkinson is clear that everyone must do what works for them. "Every woman and every pregnancy is different," she said. "There may be some of you who are doing way more than this, some of you who are doing way less. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else, especially when you are pregnant! I’ve made that my number one rule!"
It’s not the first time she’s delivered her fans some real talk since announcing her pregnancy at the start of this month. "All I’ve been asked since people know I’m pregnant is ‘Are you worried about putting on weight?'" she wrote on Instagram, "Well, in a word, NO."
"My cellulite will increase due to the rapid increase in oestrogen in my body. I’ll at times look bloated or have some spots and carry water retention due to my hormones changing, but all of the above are signs that my body is working correctly to house my baby."
Most experts agree that exercising during pregnancy is healthy, but you need to go about it the right way. "It’s important to keep physically active during pregnancy," says Clare Livingstone, professional policy advisor at the Royal College of Midwives. "Moderate exercise will not harm a woman or her baby, and recreational exercise, such as swimming or brisk walking, is known to be beneficial."
"The exercise pregnant women take should reflect their previous exercise regime. If a women has not exercised routinely up to their pregnancy, they should begin with no more than 15 minutes of continuous exercise, three times per week, increasing gradually to daily 30-minute sessions.
According to the HSE, being active for up to 30 minutes most days during pregnancy can:
- help reduce backache, constipation, bloating, and swelling
- maintain your muscle strength and fitness
- increase your energy levels
- improve your mood and feeling of wellbeing
- help prevent or treat gestational diabetes
- help reduce high blood pressure
- help reduce varicosities (enlarged veins) and swelling in the arms and legs
- improve your posture
- help you sleep better
- help prepare you for labour and birth
Be sure to get advice from your GP or obstetrician before starting exercise whilst pregnant.