The Exhausted Mama: Should You Exercise On Little Sleep?

Clock - credit: lusiIf sleep is limited, the risk of injury spikes.  Performance levels will be half of what you’re normally used to, which will either A, disappoint and discourage you, or B, cause you to overexert yourself.

As much as it sucks, especially if you’re pregnant or a sleep-deprived mommy trying to fit in workouts, taking a day to rest is necessary.  It might be a no brainer to some, but for the beginner or the woman who wants to accelerate her fitness/weight loss this is so frustrating!  You’d much rather workout than take the opportunity to nap if it arises.  You’re already seizing extra ways you can exercise and balance everything else, you really don’t have time for this!

But you do.  Believe it or not, tissue repair happens when you’re getting ZZZ’s, so even if you worked out with weights the day before and you wanted to do cardio the next, accepting that chance to nap instead of exercise is still better than logging those burned calories.  This means aiding the process in building toned muscles, which is good!

Think you’re getting enough sleep, even with a crying baby or pregnancy insomnia, but still lack the energy you’re positive you should have?  Ask yourself these two questions, you might be surprised what they reveal to you.

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Easy Interval Walking Workout

Footprint

So! You’ve resolved to be active during your pregnancy. That’s great! Now that you’ve come to an agreement with your OB or practitioner on what is safe, you’re ready to get in shape during one of the most exciting times in your life.

Walking is super effective. It’s a convenient way to ensure you’re still logging in some cardio even when you’re having a sluggish day. I want to take you through an example workout that can be adjusted to take up 20-30 minutes of your time. We’re going to be talking about interval walking.

As I am not a health professional, always seek your doctor’s approval before starting any fitness routine and stop immediately if you feel pain, short of breath, or dizzy. Pregnancy is never the time to push yourself further than you feel your body can go! And as always, remember to warm up/cool down.

Intervals in exercise involve a series of high intensity bursts that are interspersed with recovery periods. The point to this easy interval walking workout is to offer you some variety other than just straightforward strolling. Any movement in pregnancy is beneficial, but if you want more bang for your buck and a way to tone those legs, read on!

This workout has been written out for the treadmill – where I live, it’s mostly snowing and the ground is covered in ice from November-March!

BEFORE YOU BEGIN:

Make sure you have a water bottle full of water (no, really?), a good pair of sneaks and a positive attitude. A couple of your favorite tunes might help, as well!

Do some gentle stretching! I prefer shoulder and arm circles, standing leg swings (easy version), sitting in the butterfly position and doing careful roll ups through the spine. To stretch out your calves, do a calf wall stretch.

TO START OUT:

Introduce your body slowly by doing a warm up for 5 minutes. Because everyone is different in terms of height and leg length (for one woman 3.0 MPH might be dragging her feet, for another, she’s pumpin’!), I don’t like to put the MPH pace in my workouts when I share them – especially during pregnancy, because your heartrate and breath should be what you factor in the most during these nine months. Listen to your lungs and pay attention to your breath, and wear a heart rate monitor if you feel at all concerned (the 140 beats per minute limit is kind of old, though, so speak to your practitioner/personal trainer for advice).

The warm up should be enough to wake up those muscles and get you in the groove. I like to compare it to walking the dog, or doing a leisure pace in the park.

THE WORKOUT:

The next step is to pump it up a little! Start walking at a moderate pace for about two minutes — it should be brisk but not in a hurry.

By the end of these two minutes, speed it up to where you’re pumping your arms; (Don’t chicken wing! Elbows at your sides.) like you feel you’re running late for an important date.
Do this for two minutes, then drop back down to the moderate brisk pace for another two minutes.

Ready to go again? Do the ‘running late for an important date’ style for two/three minutes but this time, start increasing your incline. Because all treadmills are different, this could be a percentage or a number. I start mine at 1.5 and move up to 3.0, 3.5, and so on and so forth.

After the 2/3 three minutes of arm pumping and walking at an incline, drop the the incline back down to the original start up point and walk at your moderate pace again. Repeat the above 2-3 times and you’ve got yourself a nice interval workout!

Here’s a better breakdown:

Minutes 0-5: Walk leisurely.
Minutes 5-7: Increase speed to a moderate pace.
Minutes 7-9: Increase speed to arm pumping goodness!
Minutes 9-11: Drop back down to a moderate pace.
Minutes 11-13: Increase speed to arm pumping goodness and add incline!
Minutes 13-15: Drop back down to a moderate pace, and drop your incline.

Repeat the above 2-3 times, and adjust settings/pace as needed! You may also want to change up how many minutes you perform each speed/incline depending on your personal fitness level. Mix it up until you find what is challenging for you.

Enjoy, mammas!

NEXT POST’S TITLE PREVIEW: My Top 10 Pregnancy Superfoods.

God Bless,
Katie