By the end of July 2016, approximately 10 million people will be playing the new mobile game Pokémon Go. Yes, you read correctly! Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last two weeks, you will be well aware of the Pokémon Go phenomenon that has been sweeping the US and beyond. It is a fun, free, and addictive feel-good game. Players are combing the streets of every city in the United States, and now in many other countries, looking for Pokémons to catch.
Why should pregnant women play Pokémon Go?
Because the game encourages you to walk. Walking is a great activity for pregnant women. Walking helps you with your knees and ankles, preventing or, at least, reducing the amount of swelling. Of course, it is also good for your heart, even if you haven’t previously been active (see below).
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, it is safe to do moderate exercise for 30 minutes every day, or most days of the week, provided you’ve gotten the go-ahead from your doctor or midwife.
Do you need to play Pokémon Go to walk?
Obviously not! Any reason to walk is good. I heard that, since Pokémon Go was released, people are walking more, socializing with fellow Pokémon catchers, and even overcoming anxiety and depression by leaving the house. All of those are tremendous benefits, and it’s great to see people gaining so much from the game.
Safety tips for the walking pregnant woman
As a rule of thumb, during the hardest part of your walking workout, you should be able to converse without gasping for breath, though not with complete ease either. On a scale of 1-10, most of your walks should fall between a 3 (slow walk) and a 7 (fast enough that you couldn’t keep it up for more than 30-40 minutes).
Benefits of walking during pregnancy
- It makes you physically fit and active
- It will help achieve a healthy baby weight
- It reduces your risk of developing gestational diabetes
- It lowers your risk of premature labor that happens due to pre-eclampsia
- It releases endorphins and improves your mood
- It increases flexibility and tones up your hip muscles, which means faster and easier labor
- It can help you relieve pains and discomfort
- It reduces your risk of developing morning sickness, fatigue, cramps, constipation, varicose veins, and insomnia
The walking routine may vary depending on the trimester
Start by walking 15-20 minutes a day, three or four days a week and gradually increase the intensity depending on how fit you feel. Use comfortable shoes that support the ankles and arches. If it is sunny, use sunscreen (it is safe for you and the baby), a sunhat, and take a bottle of water to ensure you drink plenty at regular intervals to avoid dehydration.
Gradually lengthen your walks and pick up the pace at certain points. Continue to wear supportive shoes, protect your skin from the sun, and avoid dehydration. Walking may be harder at this stage. When you walk, keep your chin level, your hips tucked under your shoulders to avoid a sway in your back, and look ahead. Swing your arms for balance and to intensify your workout. You may need to know where bathrooms are. Pee stops may be frequent!
Speed and distance take a back seat to consistency now. Keep up your walking regimen as long as you can, but avoid hiking trails or any uneven terrain that could put you off balance. If you take a long walk, make sure you have enough charge in your phone’s battery in case you need to ask for help. Do not walk to the point of exhaustion or breathlessness. Your baby needs you to be well oxygenated.
When to call your health care professional
You have to seek medical advice immediately if you suffer from any of the following symptoms while walking:
- Dizziness, exhaustion, breathlessness, fainting, contractions, blurred vision, vaginal bleeding, muscle weakness, chest pain, decreased fetal movements, swelling or pain in the calf, and amniotic fluid leakage
- Also, if you have a history of high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease or high risk associated pregnancies, you should consult your doctor before you start exercising
Pregnancy Safe Walking Tips (modified from momjunction.com)
If you feel comfortable walking and moving around during pregnancy, you should follow the below tips to enjoy its benefits.
- You may decide to use a maternity belt available online as it helps improve the posture during walking
- You may drink about half a glass of milk or half a piece of apple before you go for a walk. Also, you can consume tender coconut water soon after you come back from walking
- Face forward whilst walking, to avoid sudden falls
- Do not walk too fast, but develop your own comfortable pace. Brisk walking when pregnant helps your heart and lungs work efficiently without causing any physical damage to knees and ankles
- Stretch yourself thoroughly both before and after a walk. It offers relaxation to muscles and ligaments, thus warming you up. It also improves flexibility and removes the soreness that you may experience
- When you begin walking, you may experience hip or pelvic soreness initially. Stretching can only help relieve soreness
- If you feel hot, breathless or tired, take a break. Do not allow your body to heat up as it can cause preterm contractions
- Walk carefully as your center of gravity will shift with the expanding belly
- You can listen to some music if you are walking in a calm area where there are not many distractions
- Aim for a healthy workout routine, which may include 30 minute walks or 20 minutes yoga plus 20 minutes of walk
- Walk with a friend who can keep you company
- You can also walk to a shop, office or friend’s place as a part of the walking routine
- If you take a bus, exit one stop before your destination and take a leisurely stroll
- Use stairs instead of elevators so that you will get the chance to walk
- If it is too hot outside, go for a walk in an air-conditioned area or avoid walking on those days. You can also try swimming instead of walking.
- Take breaks as often as needed
Enjoy the health benefits of walking while you search for that Pikachu that may be hiding around the corner!