Exercising While Pregnant
Fitness is as important as eating right during pregnancy. Pregnant or not, physical fitness helps keep the heart, bones and mind healthy. Special benefits of physical activity during pregnancy:
- Exercise can ease and prevent pregnancy-related aches and pains including constipation, varicose veins, backaches and exhaustion.
- Active women seem to be better prepared for labor and delivery and recover more quickly.
- Exercise may lower the risk of pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
- Fit women have an easier time getting back to a healthy weight after delivery.
- Regular exercise may improve sleep during pregnancy.
- Staying active can protect your emotional health.
For most healthy moms-to-be who do not have any pregnancy-related problems, exercise is a safe and valuable habit. Even so, talk to your doctor or midwife before exercising during pregnancy. A medical professional will be able to suggest a fitness plan that is safe for you. Getting a doctor’s advice before starting a fitness routine is important for both inactive women and women who exercised before pregnancy.
Best Activity for Moms-to-Be
Low-impact activities at a moderate level of effort are comfortable and enjoyable for many pregnant women. Walking, swimming, dancing, cycling and low-impact aerobics are some examples. These sports also are easy to take up, even if you are new to physical fitness.
Some higher intensity sports are safe for some pregnant women who were already doing them before becoming pregnant. If you jog or lift weights, you may continue with your doctor’s okay.
Follow these tips for a healthy fitness routine:
- When you exercise, start slowly, progress gradually and cool down slowly.
- You should be able to talk while exercising. If not, you may be overdoing it.
- Take frequent breaks.
- Don’t exercise on your back after the first trimester. This can put too much pressure on an important vein and limit blood flow to the baby.
- Avoid jerky, bouncy and high-impact movements. Connective tissues stretch much more easily during pregnancy, so these types of movements put you at risk of joint injury.
- Be careful not to lose your balance. As your baby grows, your center of gravity shifts making you more prone to falls. For this reason, activities like jogging and using a bicycle might be riskier as you near the third trimester.
- Don’t exercise at high altitudes (more than 6,000 feet). It can prevent your baby from getting enough oxygen.
- Make sure you drink lots of fluids before, during and after exercising.
- Do not work out in extreme heat or humidity.
- If you feel uncomfortable, short of breath or tired, take a break and take it easier when you exercise again.
Stop exercising and call your doctor immediately if you have any of the following:
- Chest pain
- Calf pain or swelling
- Abdominal pain
- Blurred vision
- Fluid leaking
- Less fetal movement
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