Is it safe to exercise while pregnant
Is it safe to exercise while pregnant? This subject came up recently when my daughter told me that she was expecting grandchild number two <insert huge smile here>. We have always been an active family and she has tried to keep up with some type of exercise program, so she has maintained her fitness level even prior to becoming pregnant. Her concern at this point is weight gain. She gained 75 pounds with her first pregnancy and doesn’t want that to happen again. She was able to lose that weight and was at her goal weight prior to getting pregnant this time. She knows that she will gain weight, obviously, but doesn’t not want to gain the extra pounds. So…. she has been eating healthy and has been more conscious of making good choices and with portion control. She has been cleared by her doctor to continue to exercise but wanted some guidelines as to what is safe. I have done some research myself and thought I would share it here!
The answer to the question posed above is YES, you can exercise while pregnant. There are some guidelines that should be followed and you MUST have your doctor’s ok. So, here is what I’ve learned:
Benefits of exercise during pregnancy
- Can improve posture to help decrease or eliminate backaches and fatigue
- May help in the prevention of gestational diabetes
- Relieves stress
- Build stamina for help during labor and delivery
Guidelines for safety
- If you were exercising prior to the start of your pregnancy you should be able to continue, but with modifications. Listen to your body and keep your heartrate below 140 bpm.
- Low impact is better than high impact.
- If you did not exercise prior to getting pregnant, you can still start a workout routine, just don’t start anything that is strenuous. Instead, try walking, swimming, indoor stationary bike, elliptical or step machines, and low impact aerobics taught by a certified instructor. Listen to your body.
- Racquet sports are safe, but you should be cautious once your belly is bigger and your balance has been altered, which can affect the rapid motions involved in these sports (like tennis).
- Running / jogging can be safe in moderation if you were doing this prior to getting pregnant… again, balance may be an issue later in pregnancy.
- 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise on most (if not all) days of the week is recommended by the American Ccllege of Obstetrics and Gynecology as long as you don’t have a medical condition that would prevent this.
What to avoid
There are certain exercises and activities that can be harmful if performed during pregnancy. They include:
- Holding your breath during any activity.
- Activities where falling is likely (such as skiing and horseback riding).
- Contact sports such as softball, football, basketball, and volleyball.
- Any exercise that may cause even mild abdominal trauma such as activities that include jarring motions or rapid changes in direction.
- Activities that require extensive jumping, hopping, skipping, bouncing, or running.
- Deep knee bends, full sit-ups, double leg raises, and straight-leg toe touches.
- Bouncing while stretching.
- Waist-twisting movements while standing.
- Heavy exercise spurts followed by long periods of no activity.
- Exercise in hot, humid weather.
Who Should Not Exercise During Pregnancy?
- Bleeding or spotting
- Low placenta
- Threatened or recurrent miscarriage
- Previous premature births or history of early labor
- Weak cervix
Talk with your health care provider before beginning an exercise program. Your health care provider can also give you personal exercise guidelines, based on your medical history.
What Should a Pregnancy Exercise Program Consist Of?
For total fitness, a pregnancy exercise program should strengthen and condition your muscles.
Always begin by warming up for five minutes and stretching for five minutes. Include at least fifteen minutes of cardiovascular activity. Measure your heart rate at times of peak activity. Follow aerobic activity with five to ten minutes of gradually slower exercise that ends with gentle stretching.
Here are some basic exercise guidelines for pregnant women:
- Wear loose fitting, comfortable clothes as well as a good support bra.
- Choose shoes that are designed for the type of exercise you do. Proper shoes are your best protection against injury.
- Exercise on a flat, level surface to prevent injury.
- Consume enough calories to meet the needs of your pregnancy (300 more calories per day than before you were pregnant) as well as your exercise program.
- Finish eating at least one hour before exercising.
- Drink water before, during, and after your workout.
- After doing floor exercises, get up slowly and gradually to prevent dizziness.
- Never exercise to the point of exhaustion. If you cannot talk normally while exercising, you are probably over-exerting yourself and should slow down your activity.
What Pregnancy Changes May Affect Exercise?
Physical changes during pregnancy create extra demands on your body. Keeping in mind the changes listed below, remember that you need to listen to your body and adjust your activities or exercise routine as necessary.
- Your developing baby and other internal changes require more oxygen and energy.
- Hormones produced during pregnancy cause the ligaments that support your joints to stretch, increasing the risk of injury.
- The extra weight and the uneven distribution of your weight shift your center of gravity. The extra weight also puts stress on joints and muscles in the lower back and pelvic area and makes it easier for you to lose your balance.
Warning for Pregnant Women
Stop exercising and consult your health care provider if you:
- Feel chest pain.
- Have abdominal pain, pelvic pain, or persistent contractions.
- Have a headache.
- Notice an absence or decrease in fetal movement.
- Feel faint, dizzy, nauseous, or light-headed.
- Feel cold or clammy.
- Have vaginal bleeding.
- Have a sudden gush of fluid from the vagina or a trickle of fluid that leaks steadily.
- Notice an irregular or rapid heartbeat.
- Have sudden swelling in your ankles, hands, face, or calf pain.
- Are short of breath.
- Have difficulty walking.
- Have muscle weakness.
How Soon Can I Exercise After Delivery?
It is best to ask your health care provider how soon you can begin your exercise routine after delivering your baby.
Although you may be eager to get in shape quickly, return to your pre-pregnancy fitness routines gradually. Follow your health care provider’s exercise recommendations.
Most women can safely perform a low-impact activity one to two weeks after a vaginal birth (or three to four weeks after a cesarean birth). Do about half of your normal floor exercises and don’t try to overdo it.
(I have to give resource credit to WebMD and the March of dimes for the information listed above)
My daughter plans to continue with her walking program for the remainder of her pregnancy (she is 20 weeks and it’s a GIRL!). She already plans to start Turbo Fire after the baby is born and she is cleared by her doctor.
You can also try Yoga Booty Ballet, Baby on the Way which is a workout specifically designed for women that are pregnant. Ask you doctor if it is right for you! Remember, there is a 30 money back guarentee!
If you are post pregnancy, or if you just want to get in shape… contact me for help. I can coach you for free, and I can help you select the workout program that would be the best for you. Email me at email@example.com
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