When history teacher Aimee Blazek was told by doctors she couldn’t continue to run or lift weights while pregnant, she needed to change her exercise routine so she could still move her body to improve her mental wellbeing. Here, she shares how she’s adapted and the new activities she is really enjoying.

Adjusting my exercise routine without losing the enjoyment

Exercise and moving my body are priorities for me. I’ve found, over many years, that when I am stagnant my physical and mental health suffer.

Luckily I either figure out that I’m not coping well with the stresses of life or teaching or, more usually, my husband will ask when the last time I went to the gym was, or suggest I go for a run. Moments such as these have made it clear that my personal wellbeing does rely on movement.

I have recently been advised that I can no longer exercise in the ways that I enjoy. I’m four months pregnant and my obstetrician has told me I can no longer run or lift weights. This change has not been an easy one to take on board and has meant I’ve had to really reassess the way I exercise.

So, what am I able to do? I can walk. Which, unfortunately, is not running. I had always enjoyed the pace of moving quickly, of the breeze on my face, and the challenge to improve my splits between kilometres.

So, honestly, the adjustment has been difficult to make, but it's a nice change to have made. I can still listen to a podcast while I walk, and I can still challenge myself if I wish, but a slower walk around my neighbourhood, looking at the houses and gardens with my husband, has been a refreshing change.

Yoga is also on the go-to list. I have been attending yoga weekly for well over 12 months and have been advised that yoga is perfect for the pregnant body.

But what I have really enjoyed, and taken much greater interest in, is the breath work that goes into yoga. As a teacher, I can hold a lot of stress in my body, so the focus on breath paired with movement has been a welcome relief at the end of a busy day by forcing those random negative, busy, or distracting thoughts out of my mind and body.

I have also tried other forms of low-impact exercise. And, I have discovered that just because a form of exercise is not classed as high impact, it does not mean that it is easy or ineffective.

Barre, for instance, has been a challenging experience. And whilst it was lovely to be a ballerina for all of two minutes during the class, the other 43 minutes were extremely challenging. Not to mention the shock I had two days afterwards when my legs and glutes reminded me that they were very much still feeling the burn.

Barre, as challenging as it is, has been a fast favourite and an activity that I hope to continue well into the future. Zumba is another that may be overlooked by those serious gym goers, but again provided a real challenge to my coordination and self-awareness. I may not return to that in the future, but it was fun. Another that I am yet to attempt and have been encouraged to attend is water aerobics, I just need to get some appropriate swimwear and find a class that I can get to.

Whilst it was really easy to get bogged down in what I am no longer able to do, the focus on health and clarity of mind is still my main focus. I am still an advocate of moving for wellbeing, but the way that I do that movement has been adjusted. My biggest take away, so far, has been that changing how you move is okay, just as long as you do move.

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