Safe ways to exercise during pregnancy

Many women wonder whether they can exercise during pregnancy and what’s safe. For most healthy pregnancies, the answer is yes, you can and should exercise throughout your pregnancy. What you do depends on your fitness level and comfort.

Benefits of exercise during pregnancy

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) noted that pregnant women should aim for 150 minutes a week of exercise or about 30 minutes a day. This can be divided into smaller workouts, as little as 10 minutes each. Taking the time to exercise can limit swollen veins and constipation, as well as make sleeping easier. It also reduces back pain while helping women gain a healthy weight.

Exercise safely

woman doing yoga while pregnant

This isn’t the time to sign up for a mud run or 5k, but that doesn’t mean you have to take it overly easy either. If you’re already fit, stick with the activities you can, as long as you can. If you’re new to regular exercise, start slow.

Choose low-impact, non-contact activities

Avoid contact sports or activities that carry a risk of falling, such as horseback riding or skiing, the ACOG explained. Try walking, stationary biking, yoga or Pilates with certain modifications. Swimming and water aerobics are solid choices, as well. Weight training is also a great way to stay strong, as long as you keep the weight modest. Don’t lift anything heavy while pregnant.

Modify workouts

Even if you continue sports or classes you took before pregnancy, you may need to make modifications. After the first trimester, you shouldn’t spend long periods standing still or lying on your back. Use an incline bench or Pilates ball to modify sit-ups, for example.

Your body changes while pregnant can affect your ability to keep up with some activities, according to the March of Dimes. Your joints loosen and are more prone to injury, especially from bouncy, jerky movements. Your balance is off, and you need more oxygen. You may find that you’re out of breath sooner. Additionally, you’ll sweat at a lower temperature. Exercise in a temperature-controlled room or outside in cooler weather to avoid overheating.

Monitor nutrition

Moderate exercise won’t change your nutrition needs too much. Drinking plenty of water is the most important consideration while exercising. When pregnant, you need more calories and nutrients. For example, you need 71 grams of protein per day, according to the Mayo Clinic. This can come from meat, cheese, eggs, beans, seeds and soy.

If you’re maintaining a higher fitness level and find that you’re losing weight or not gaining enough, you may need to add more quality calories to your diet.

Although exercise is safe and beneficial for many women, it’s not for everyone. If you have any pregnancy complications or risk of preterm birth, talk to your obstetrician about what activities are safe for you. March of Dimes added that women with health conditions such as heart or lung problems, severe anemia, preeclampsia and placenta previa shouldn’t exercise during pregnancy.

Your doctor can advise what activity level is best for you to keep you and your baby healthy.

Related link: Reid Health Family Birthing Center

Image source: MorgueFile

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