Not that many years ago, the moment you became pregnant you were deemed the most fragile person on the planet. In those days, women were expected to relax and sit down throughout their pregnancy. They were told: “Don’t lift” and “exercise is out of the question!” However, the past is just that – the past!
Recent research shows that exercise is actually very beneficial in many ways including:
- You remain healthier and give your baby a healthier start.
- You maintain a healthy pregnancy weight, which usually translates to less weight to lose after your bundle of joy arrives. You also decrease your risk of gestational diabetes.
- Exercise can reduce back pain and other pains that occur during pregnancy.
- Your delivery could be easier because you will be maintaining your muscle mass and muscular endurance.
Which Pregnancy Workouts Are Best?
The best exercise choices are low impact. Try light jogging (if you were previously a cardio queen), walking, swimming, yoga, indoor cycling, low-impact aerobics and lightweight weight training.
You may even want to invest in a heart-rate monitor so that you can easily gage how hard your body is working. During pregnancy, exercise is important, but you don’t want to overdo it.
Listen To Your Body
Your body is supporting a new, growing life and it is using extra energy for this miraculous process. It’s not time to push yourself to the max and exhaust yourself in the gym. However, it is good to get a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least four times per week.
The most important thing to do when exercising while pregnant is to listen to your body. Stop working out immediately if:
- You’re feeling faint, dizzy or lightheaded.
- You feel like you’re becoming overheated.
- You feel nauseous.
- You begin having contractions.
- You have belly or vaginal pains.
- You have any bleeding.
- You feel like you can’t catch your breath. If you’re still able to talk to a gym buddy without any issues, you are probably working out at a good pace.
Lifting Weight While Pregnant
If you love lifting weights, you still can! It may be lighter lifting than you are used to, but maintaining your muscle mass can help in many ways. For example, lifting weights helps build muscular endurance that you’ll need during delivery.
Focusing on your upper body (shoulders, back, chest and biceps) helps keep you toned and helps you build upper body strength that you’ll want to have when you are toting your baby around for errands.
Kegel exercises, where you contract and relax the pelvic-floor muscles, can help prevent incontinence while you’re pregnant. Why? The reason is because you are strengthening the muscles that hold up your uterus, bladder and bowels. A strong pelvic floor may also help with pushing during labor and delivery. The best part about these exercises is that you can do them in your car or at your desk and no one would know!
Abdominal exercises can help you maintain excellent posture. This prevents the sway back associated with pregnancy. Abs exercises also help alleviate back pain that comes with carrying all that extra weight on the front of your body.
A Few Don’ts
Now that you know what you should be doing, it’s time to discuss what you should be avoiding.
- Don’t leave home without your water bottle. Staying hydrated is extremely important when you are pregnant. Hydrate before, during and after exercise.
- Don’t do any exercises in which you lie on your stomach.
- Don’t do any exercises where you lie flat on your back. This restricts blood flow to the fetus, which can cause complications.
- Don’t wear restrictive clothing or exercise belts that can limit your breathing.
- Don’t play high-impact sports. These types of sports might cause you to trip, fall or collide with another person.
Most Importantly: Talk To Your Doctor
It’s always best to discuss your exercise routine with your OBGYN. He or she can make suggestions best suited for you and your baby. If you have any health problems during pregnancy, your doctor may suggest that you not work out at all.
However, if you are having a healthy pregnancy, you’ll most likely be able to work out from the day you discover you’re pregnant up to the day before you deliver your bundle of joy.