It is best not to become an athlete when you are pregnant if you were not already on an exercise regime. But, if you were accustomed to regular exercise before pregnancy, continuing with the same thing is usually fine.
If you are a first-time exerciser and already pregnant, there will be several things to consider before deciding the type of exercise you want to try while pregnant.
Steer Clear of High-Impact Exercises
It will be important not to do high-impact exercises during pregnancy, even if you have done them before. This is because pregnancy hormones make your joints looser, thus putting you at greater risk for injury. Your baby is putting more weight in front of you, especially later in your term. This can make you feel off-balance when you engage in the activity. Certain exercises like yoga can help to balance yourself. Other choices, such as swimming, help support some of your body weight, making it easier on your joints.
The Safe Exercises for Pregnant Women
One of the most popular exercises for pregnant women is prenatal yoga. It has been shown to increase strength and flexibility and reduce stress. It is a good activity for anyone but is especially beneficial when you are pregnant.
The positive side of prenatal yoga is that it is low impact. This means that it will not be jarring your joints the way that running or jogging can be. When you are pregnant, hormones in your body actually loosen the joints so that they can more easily accommodate your growing body, but this has a downside because it can put you at increased risk for injury.
This is why prenatal yoga, as a low-impact exercise, can help. It will give you some of the benefits of jogging without the jarring. There are now even prenatal yoga classes for pregnant women. Go to a couple of classes to see if you like it. Then you can purchase the yoga mats, and stretchable pregnancy yoga wear that you will need for the class.
Since you will be looking for low-impact exercises, you need to remember that you need some aerobic activity. Yoga is often not considered an aerobic exercise since it does not increase your heart rate enough.
There are other options, though, for aerobic, low-impact exercises. You might consider swimming. In the pool, part of your body weight is buoyed by the water, making anything you do easier.
The water also adds resistance, so jogging inside the water becomes more impactful than jogging on land. Plus, it is easier on your joints. Not only that, but by doing exercise in water, you are benefiting yourself and your baby. Both of which are good reasons to get out into the pool.
Many doctors advise that if you have never been active, that you need to start slowly. Regular, daily activity is more important than a couple of heavy workouts once or twice a month. To achieve this, they recommend that you build activity into your daily regime. This works even for moms-to-be.
Walking is one of the easiest ways to incorporate activity into your life. You could take a walk around the block in the evening after dinner or park your car a bit farther in the parking lot. How about a shopping trip with your girlfriends? The mall is a great place to do some walking. It is climate controlled, so you can never use the weather as an excuse. So slip your pregnant body into figure-loving casual maternity outfits and head over to your nearest mall.
Sometimes, even a leisurely stroll through the stores is better than nothing. If you build these habits into your life while pregnant, it will be easier to continue them after the baby comes. Another benefit is that your baby’s weight will come off easier if you are active before and after the baby arrives. You should never do any painful activity, but your body will adapt to the activity as you go along and it should become easier.
Exercising gets your heart rate up, lowers your blood pressure, and releases endorphins – the “feel good” hormones. Pregnant women are not immune to these benefits. The best way to achieve this is through aerobic exercise, which raises your heart rate. Any aerobic activity, even jogging, you had a routine of before your pregnancy, you should be able to continue with your physician’s approval. Try to stick to low-impact aerobics.
Besides swimming and walking, you might want to think about stationary cycling on a recumbent bike. Stationary biking is better for pregnant women since it is easier to maintain balance, but traditional stationary bikes will not be comfortable for most pregnant women, especially in later months. This is due to the positioning of the body, where riders often lean forward at the waist.
A better option is a recumbent bike, where the rider reclines while pedaling. These are easier on the joints, offer better balance, and get onto than other types. Be sure that you specifically ask your doctor about a recumbent bicycle. You might even want to show him a picture so that you both know what exactly you are asking about.
When to Avoid Exercise During Pregnancy?
While exercise has many benefits both for you and your baby, there are some cases in which it could be dangerous. This is especially true for those women who have been told that they have a high-risk pregnancy. If you have a low placenta, weak cervix, prior miscarriages, a history of early labor, bleeding or spotting, and any chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or asthma, be sure to check with your physician.
Once you are given the green light to exercise, there are times when you will need to stop immediately and discuss continuing your workout regime with your doctor. Stop at once if while exercising any of the following occurs: bleeding or steady fluid leak from the vagina, a sudden gush of a lot of vaginal fluid, sudden swelling in legs or feet, irregular heartbeat, dizziness, a clammy feel, lack of movement from your baby, chest pain, abdominal pain, contractions, shortness of breath, a headache, or trouble walking.
The presence of any or all of these could signify that something is wrong. Speak with your OB-GYN as soon as possible.