Training While Pregnant

By Michela DiTocco
Becoming pregnant is a wonderful and exciting time in most peoples’ lives.  It doesn’t mean that your whole life changes though. You can still enjoy the benefits of your existing training regime and see how it will benefit you during this stage of your life. It is important that by maintaining your fitness you can achieve your pre-baby body after the pregnancy sooner.
There are many benefits in training during your pregnancy including increased energy levels, gradual weight gain, improved cardiovascular fitness, and improved strength in lower back and pelvic muscles.  Although the training schedule may be slightly modified, it is recommended that you not introduce any new exercises. A few important guidelines to remember, don’t let your heart rate get above 140bpm when training, if training in hot weather always wear a hat and remain in the shade, always ensure you are well hydrated (drinks lots of water), take a few extra rest breaks during the session and avoid abdominal and high impact (running, jumping, skipping) exercises.
During the later stages of your pregnancy (2nd and 3rd trimester) remember to include exercises to strengthen your lower back, also be careful with exercises which require more balance as your sense of equilibrium may be affected. Utilise a Swiss ball for any weight based exercises, this reduces the stress on your joints and also keeps you off your feet. Your joints will also become more flexible and have a greater range of motion during pregnancy, primarily due to a hormone which is released called relaxin. This just means you need to be careful with any dynamic movement exercises and watch your range of motion in exercises like squats.
After your baby, time is precious and it is important that after 6 weeks, and your Doctor’s ok, to begin training again. If you have had a natural birth your pelvic muscles and abdominals will be very weak, so ensure you are including exercises to strengthen those areas.  The more focused you are the quicker you can achieve your health and fitness goals, just listen to your body, and your trainer, and you can have your pre-baby body back.  If you are ever unsure about what you can and can’t do with your training while you’re pregnant, train with a qualified personal trainer to ensure you are receiving the most accurate and up to date training information.


The Importance of Water During Exercise

By Russell Laurie
Besides air (oxygen), water is the element most essential to human life, with the body unable to survive longer than several days without it. Water is critical to the functioning of every single cell and organ system in the human body, and makes up more than 2/3 of our entire weight.  Making sure your body is properly hydrated is especially important during exercise.  Adequate fluid intake for anyone training is essential to comfort, performance and safety.
Over the next few months, as the weather starts becoming warmer, it is extremely important to keep well hydrated whilst exercising in the heat, to avoid dehydration.  High heat and humidity conditions can make you lose more water through perspiration than you normally would, and that water loss must be countered by sufficient rehydration.  Thirst is not a good indicator of when your body needs water, with the thirst sensation only beginning to be perceived after 2% of your body water is already lost, and by that stage your body has already begun to be dehydrated.  Severe dehydration occurs when 5% of your total body weight has been lost.  These relatively small changes in body weight due to dehydration lead to very significant negative changes to your ability to train and perform, so proper hydration must be taken seriously.
Signs Of Dehydration
–          Thirst is the first indicator of dehydration (but is not an early warning sign)
–          Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
–          Having a dry mouth
–          Producing less urine and of a darker colour.
–          Nausea and vomiting
–          Muscle cramps
With severe cases of dehydration, confusion and weakness will occur as the brain and other body organs receive less blood.  Finally, coma and organ failure will occur if the dehydration remains untreated.
During training sessions you need to be taking in water before, during and after exercising to keep your body well hydrated throughout the whole process.  If you are going to be doing a morning workout, you must start to drink water once you wake up.  For a lunchtime session, drink water throughout the morning; drink all day if you are having an evening workout.  It is better to sip water constantly throughout the day, rather than try to meet your minimum requirements by drinking a lot all at once.
Because there is a wide variability in sweat rates, losses and hydration levels of individuals, it is nearly impossible to provide specific recommendations or guidelines about the type or amount of fluids you should consume.  Finding the right amount of fluids to drink depends upon a variety of individual factors, including the length and intensity of exercise and other individual differences.  There are however some basic guidelines that you can follow to have adequate hydration.
Basic Recommendations For Maintaining Fluid Balance
–          Drink 0.5L of water 2 hours before exercise
–          Deliberate hydration should be practised during exercise even if you’re not thirsty
–          Monitor urine volume output and colour
–          Weigh yourself before and after exercise and replace the equivalent weight in fluid (assume 1kg = 1L) over the next 2 to 4 hours
–          Carry a water bottle around with you during the day
By making sure you stay hydrated throughout the day, you will have more energy to perform each of your training sessions, and it will also help you recover faster after each workout.  If you find you are not drinking enough fluids for exercise, it’s not hard to get into the habit. Increase your intake gradually, and in time you’ll easily consume what your body needs to make sure you are staying well hydrated.



Potassium is one of the major minerals involved in nerve impulse transmissions, which are very important in initiating muscle contractions. A diet that is low in potassium may expose you to health issues such as an irregular heartbeat, loss of appetite and muscle cramps. People who are most at risk of these symptoms are those who have a very poor diet, or who are taking potassium wasting diuretics. In order to maintain a healthy level of potassium in your body, it is recommended that you consume around 4700 milligrams of potassium per day from rich sources such as spinach, bananas, orange juice, vegetables, fruit, milk, meat and whole grains.


Calcium – It’s An Essential Mineral

By Michela DiTocco
Calcium is an essential mineral which our body needs to function. Most commonly calcium is associated with bone strength and density; however, our body also uses it to perform other activities such as muscle contractions, nerve impulses, grow strong teeth –  the list goes on. Our body absorbs calcium via our diet and utilises it to carry out the necessary functions. Our body cannot produce its own calcium so it is important that we consume adequate amounts of this essential mineral on a daily basis. There are many foods which are rich in calcium, not just milk. All dairy products such as cheese, yoghurt, ice-cream and milk are excellent sources of calcium (just make sure you opt for low fat varieties). Some other foods which contain high amounts of calcium include broccoli, fish (with edible bones), tofu, baked beans, almonds, and hazelnuts. There are a lot of other products available which have been enriched with calcium to help meet the daily requirements, like orange juice, yoghurt, soy products, milk products and other juices. The recommended daily amounts of calcium are: for children <1000mg; for teenagers 1300mg; men & women 1000mg; and elderly men and women 1300mg.
One of the main reasons which we are constantly reminded to consume calcium in our diets is to prevent the onset of osteoporosis. This is a condition where the bones become brittle and lose their density and causes you to become more prone to fractures. This condition affects 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men over 60 years in Australia. It is essential that from a young age you are consuming the RDI of calcium right throughout your life. For women from the age of 16 peak bone mass is around 80%. By age 30, maximum bone mass is reached and gradual bone loss will begin, therefore the stronger your bones are at this time the less risk you have of developing osteoporosis. For older women who have passed through menopause your bodies need for calcium increases and it becomes more difficult for your body to absorb calcium. You doctor may advise you to take calcium supplements and increase your exercise to delay the possible onset.
Calcium can also be taken as a supplement if your diet is not providing enough, under your doctor’s supervision. Such supplements are mainly recommended to women over 50 or men over 70 as their need for calcium increases. Vitamin D also plays an important role in the absorption of calcium in the body. If you become deficient in vitamin D you may also be low in calcium as they work together in the body. The best source of vitamin D is from the sun, as little as 10 minutes a day. It can also be taken in combination with a calcium supplement to improve the absorption rate.
Exercise is also an important with making our bones stronger and improving bone density. It has been well documented the positive association between weight based exercises and improved bone density. Such exercises allow you to work the joints (and not just the muscles) to improve strength and make your bones stronger over time. Also exercises such as walking, running or skipping can also improve bone density and prevent the onset of osteoporosis.
As calcium plays an important role is our day to day lives, it is important to monitor your intake and have your levels checked out by your doctor regularly if you have any concerns. A well designed weight program, by a trainer, can help you understand the benefits of weight training and bone strength and how they go hand in hand with your diet.



The mineral Magnesium has a few major functions within the body. They include: strengthening your bones, helping with enzyme functions and also helping with nerve and heart function. The recommended daily requirement of magnesium for males is 350mg, while for females it is recommended that they consume at least 265mg of magnesium per day. Failure to do this can lead to complications such as; weakness, muscle pain and poor heart function. Foods that are great sources of magnesium are; wheat bran, green vegetables, nuts, legumes and chocolate.


Benefits Of Meat

In today’s society we are a meat eating culture, where we consume some form of meat/poultry with most meals. We are told that too much meat is not good for us, that it is not good for our cholesterol and overall health; however there are many benefits in continuing to eat meat.

Red meat is a major source of b-group vitamins (B12, B1 and niacin), zinc, iron, protein, essential amino acids and long chian omega-3. Iron is important to our health and it helps our body to regenerate red blood cells. Our body absorbs on average 30% of its iron from red meat sources and only 2% from plant based sources. Zinc is vital for healthy skin and an immune system and the B-group vitamins are widely found in red meat and are used to maintain nerve cells and blood formation. Proteins in meats are complete (they contain all the essential amino acids), and these help in the body’s repair and renewal of our muscles and organs. By not consuming red meat you may become protein deficient, anaemic (low iron levels), tired and with low energy levels, constantly hungry, and having poor immunity.

Red meat and poultry can be high in saturated fats (which can raise cholesterol levels), due to the skin on poultry and the fat on certain cuts of meat. Due to the many health benefits of meat it is important to continue to consume meats; however, always opt for lean cuts with little or no fat and remove the skin from the chicken. The cooking method is important also. Healthy and recommended cooking methods include steaming, poaching, grilling, stir-fry and dry roasting.

You should be consuming red meat/poultry 2-3 times per week and for a daily serve of 65-100g (for women and men respectively). The following cuts are the leanest types and should be included in your diet regularly: chicken breast, beef rump steak, pork steak, venison, kangaroo, turkey steak and minced steak. White chicken meat (breast) contains less fat than dark meat (legs and wings) and is a healthier option. Including these in your diet a few times a week will certainly improve weight loss, and help you to avoid heart disease and reduce blood pressure.

Overall, excluding meats from your diet will not benefit you. There are numerous advantages with red meat, and as long as you choose low fat cuts of meat and cook using a healthy method, your body can obtain these important vitamins and minerals.  You will remain strong and healthy and not experience any of the symptoms you may get from not including meat in your diet.