Exercising While Pregnant
by Amanda Henderson
We all know that exercise is an important part of our existence. It keeps our bodies fit, it helps us to feel great, and overall, to live longer, healthier lives. Exercise can help you to strengthen your muscles, maintain/lose weight and manage your stress. Exercise is excellent for expectant mothers.
You no longer need to think that pregnancy means that you are going to get fat! Being pregnant is life-changing and can be an emotional and physical roller coaster at times. As your body changes, you may experience a variety of things along the way, including: nausea, weight gain, and stiff/loose muscles. Exercise can benefit your pregnancy by relieving stress, helping to balance your hormones, increasing your stamina and energy, and helping to prepare you for labor and delivery. Eating good, wholesome foods is absolutely necessary to help your exercise regimen. Take a look at your daily schedule and make exercise a top priority.
You should always consult with your health care provider before starting on any exercise program, to ensure that the programs are right for you. You don’t want to put you or your baby’s health at any risk.
Listed below are some ways to exercise safely during your pregnancy and other items to consider.
Before You Begin
Before you choose an activity, take into consideration how much exercise you have done in the past. Did you work out a lot, or were you more of a couch potato? If it’s been a while since you’ve exercised, then you should definitely start out slowly. If you are used to exercising, it is still important to take things relatively slow. You may not be used to the extra weight your body is carrying or the amount of energy you now require to move. Know that you will have to do things in moderation and you may have to adjust, as each month changes your body.
Know Your Body
Your body will be going through many changes during your 40 weeks of pregnancy. Being fit during this time requires safe, regular, moderate exercise. If you are used to running a 5K every morning, you may want to reconsider. And if you normally don’t run, now is NOT the time to start training for a marathon! You are supposed to gain some weight, not lose it, so your workouts should be manageable and help to make you feel great!
Be sure to have the correct workout attire and shoes required to do the specific activity. An old pair of tennis shoes can wreak havoc on anyone, let alone if you are pregnant! So it’s a good excuse to go shopping for some new items! For clothing, choose materials that keep moisture away and that are comfortable for your body. This includes support bras. Shoes are very important, as they provide protection, support, cushioning, traction and flexibility. With your changing body size throughout your pregnancy, your balance and coordination will be tested. Be sure to have the best and safest active wear for each activity you do.
Choosing An Activity
The key to enjoying exercise during pregnancy is to choose one that you enjoy or are excited to do. Something that is fun or engaging. There are a wide variety of great activities that you can do. Focus on low-impact activities, which will get your blood pumping but won’t put excess strain on your body. You want to keep your BPM under 140 and avoid lying on your back after your third month. Blood flow can be blocked to your baby.
The safest and most productive activities during pregnancy are walking and swimming. You can do both of these exercises throughout your entire 40 weeks. They are low risk for injuries and are easy to do. You can take a nice stroll around your neighborhood, at the mall, at an indoor track, or on a treadmill. So easy!
Some great low impact activities during pregnancy also include:
Yoga – There are all kinds of yoga classes out there and you can find one that works best for you, such as Gentle Yoga, PiYo™ (which also includes pilates and dance elements), or prenatal yoga. Make sure that you don’t do any twisting poses/movements and be weary of some balance poses. You don’t want to twist that waistline where your baby is busy growing. Your ligaments will also be more flexible during this time, where you are more likely to overstretch or become off-balance. Simple poses and stretches are great for you though.
Weight Classes – It’s important to keep those muscles moving! A great muscle or weight class will help you to maintain your muscle and to keep your strength. Make sure you don’t overdo it by using or doing too much. You may need to use lighter weights, even if you are used to heavier ones. You don’t want to pull a muscle when you are pregnant. Especially in the last trimester, when it’s hard enough to get in and out of the car! Give yourself a limit and avoid abdominal work after the third trimester.
Low Impact Aerobics – This could include a variety of classes, including: dance, some non-contact kickboxing classes, cycling, treadmill classes, etc. Obviously, some are more low impact than others, so you will have to be diligent in checking out which ones are right for you. If you have been actively engaged in some of these aerobics classes before you were pregnant, chances are good that your doctor will tell you that you are alright to continue doing those activities. Just make sure that you are keeping to the appropriate beats per minute (typically 140bpm and below) and that you feel good doing it.
Exercise Safety and Signs
During pregnancy, it is especially important not to overwork yourself. Some signs could be shortness of breath, dizziness, feeling faint or nausea. Your body is experiencing many changes that require oxygen and energy needed to help support this new baby growing inside you! This is why you need to know how to measure your body's responses to exercise.
The talk test is a great guide to know if you are working within the right range. You should be able to talk to someone without running out of oxygen. You can also check your pulse to make sure of your beats per minute, or even purchase a heart rate monitor for an easy check during your workout! Some even show calories burned! Just listen to your body.
So now that you know what to do... check-in with your health care provider. Enjoy exercising during your pregnancy! You’ll be so glad that you did – for yourself AND your baby!
You can also find this article on Chalene Johnson's website: http://bit.ly/aT9ZLp