Exercise During Pregnancy
Recent studies have shown a benefit to exercise in pregnancy. Women that exercise prior to pregnancy can usually continue their exercise regimen with modifications for pregnancy. If you have never exercised before, it is recommended to begin an exercise regimen to improve the health of you and your baby.
For most low risk patients, exercise during pregnancy provides multiple benefits:
- Improves sleep
- Decreases risk for gestational diabetes
- Improves discomforts of pregnancy and constipation
- Prevents excessive weight gain
- Improves mood
- Quicker return to pre-pregnancy size
There are many different types of exercise that are safe and recommended during pregnancy:
Walking is a safe, easy and beneficial way to ease into an exercise regimen. If you have not been doing any exercise prior to become pregnant, walking is an excellent place to start. Begin with a 15-20 minute walk on level ground, such as an indoor or outdoor track. Choose a pace that allows you to talk comfortably, but still raises your heart rate.
Swimming is beneficial for multiple reasons; first, it reduces the effect of gravity on your growing body making you "weightless" in the water. For many women with joint and knee problems, swimming is an effective workout with minimal strain on the body. It also exercises both the upper and lower body, making it more effective than traditional workouts in less time.
These incorporate stretching and positions to help tone muscles of the body. Yoga and pilates are generally low-impact and a good choice for women with joint or knee problems. They can help strengthen the stomach and back muscles and ease discomforts of pregnancy. Look for a class or video specifically designed for pregnancy, as many of the traditional poses must be modified for the pregnant patient.
Aerobics are an excellent choice for raising heart rate and toning muscles. Look for classes or videos specifically for pregnancy.
Riding a bicycle is a safe, low impact sport for pregnant women. Look for paved trails without car traffic and always wear a helmet while riding. Using a stationary bicycle at the gym is also a great, low impact workout. Spinning classes can be high intensity; you should modify your workout to be low-to-moderate intensity.
For women who were runners prior to becoming pregnant, running can be continued safely during pregnancy. Pregnant runners should jog at a moderate pace and a medium distance. Simply trying to maintain your current pace and distance (not a training schedule) is recommended during pregnancy
Common sense cautions:
- If you feel tired, dizzy or lightheaded during exercise, make sure you stop to rest.
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially in warm weather.
- Avoid exercise during extreme heat or cold.
- Stop exercise if you feel contractions, have vaginal bleeding or experience leakage of fluid.
- Avoid any sports that could potentially result in trauma to your belly or falls (basketball, soccer, water skiing, snow skiing, gymnastics etc).
- Scuba diving is not recommended during pregnancy.