Exercise and Pregnancy

Written by: Chris Mitchell, Personal Trainer & GroupX Instructor, O2 Fitness Brennan

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Exercise is beneficial whether you’re trying to get pregnant or you’re already in your third trimester – and everywhere in between! If you are just beginning to exercise, the key is to do it slow and steady.

You should warm up, exercise, stop if you feel short of breath or are in pain, and slow down before you come to a complete stop. It is always wise to get your doctor’s stamp of approval before you begin an exercise program or if you want to continue or change your program while pregnant.

Pregnancy and Your Changing Body

While your body still looks like it did before, there are many small changes going on inside during your first trimester of pregnancy. Many women don’t feel much different, at least early on in the pregnancy, and there’s little risk to the baby; so, this is a great time to continue or regulate your exercise program and to think about the benefits of exercise.

Exercise in pregnancy has a multitude of benefits-from improving your sleep to making labor and delivery easier, to providing endorphins and making you feel better, and to helping you get your figure back more quickly after delivery. For more information visit Healthline.com

Exercise Guidelines During Pregnancy

If you have been following a regular exercise program prior to your pregnancy, you should be able to maintain that program to some degree throughout your pregnancy. Exercise does not increase the risk for miscarriage in a normal low risk pregnancy.

If you are just starting an exercise program as a way of improving your health during your pregnancy, you should start very slowly and be careful not to over exert yourself. Consider a prenatal yoga class that is specifically designed for pregnant women.

Listen to your body.

Your body will naturally give you signals that it is time to reduce the level of exercise you are performing.

Never exercise to the point of exhaustion or breathlessness.

This is a sign that your baby and your body cannot get the oxygen supply they need.

Wear comfortable footwear.

Wear comfortable exercise footwear that gives strong ankle and arch support.

Take breaks.

Take frequent breaks, and drink plenty of fluids during exercise.

Avoid hot weather workouts.

Avoid exercise in extremely hot weather.

Avoid rocky terrain or unstable ground when running or cycling.

Your joints are more lax in pregnancy, and ankle sprains and other injuries may occur.

Temporarily say ‘no’ to contact sports.

Contact sports should be avoided during pregnancy.

Be careful when weight lifting.

Weight training should emphasize improving tone, especially in the upper body and abdominal area. Avoid lifting weights above your head and using weights that strain the lower back muscles.

Avoid specific exercises during the second & third trimesters.

During the second and third trimesters, avoid exercise that involves lying flat on your back as this decreases blood flow to the uterus.

Stretch.

Include relaxation and stretching before and after your exercise program.

Eat a healthy diet.

Eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables and complex carbohydrates.

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