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Pregnancy Exercise - What is Safe

by Katlyn Joy | September 24, 2010
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Pregnancy Exercise - What is Safe

People used to believe that pregnant women were fragile and that exercise could harm or steal nutrients from the developing baby. It was also feared that women could bring on premature labor by being physically active. We now know that exercise is not dangerous, and the US Department of Health and Human Services even recommends that pregnant women get 2 1/2 hours of aerobic exercise each week.

Exercise can help prevent gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and postpartum depression. Additionally, it can help increase the energy of expectant mothers, help with sleep, and brighten their moods. By staying in shape, or getting in better shape, pregnant women can also be better prepared for labor and delivery, recover quicker and improve their posture after baby arrives.

Get a doctor's approval if you have certain conditions. These include heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes especially if it's not well-controlled, placental problems or a history of preterm births.

Warning signs for pregnant exercising. Stop exercising immediately if any of the following occur during or after working out, and consult a physician: vaginal bleeding, shortness of breath, faintness or dizziness, chest pain, pain or swelling in the calf, decreased fetal activity, headache, contractions, or increased vaginal fluid leaking.

Pregnancy Exercise DO's

Start gradually, working up from 5 minutes of aerobic exercise to 10, until you are up to comfortably working out for a half hour at a time. Wear comfortable clothing and supportive shoes. Exercise on smooth and even surfaces. Drink plenty of fluids during and after your work out. Listen to your body, and avoid exertion. Always warm up prior to exercise, and make sure you take time to cool down as well. Remember you won't have the balance and coordination you possessed before carrying baby.

Pregnancy Exercise DON'T's

Never push yourself too hard. This is not the time to start running marathons if you previously became winded getting the mail. Remember your joints are prone to injury now because hormones have relaxed them. A good idea is to not overextend yourself beyond your pre-pregnancy limberness. If before pregnancy you couldn't touch your toes, don't reach past them now just because you can. Avoid any activity with a high risk of falling.

Good Pregnancy Workouts

Many special classes are available either at health clubs or on DVD's, like pregnancy aerobics or yoga. Swimming is a good activity and the water helps support your expanding tummy and reduces the wear and tear on your joints. Walking is a simple exercise that most can work into their lifestyle. Cycling is good in the early weeks, but later stick to stationary bikes. Running can be good, especially if you are already a runner or have slowly worked up to a running regimen. Racquet sports can be ok but you should probably get a doctor's approval first.

Workouts to Avoid While Pregnant

Contact sports such as football, soccer, basketball and such should be avoided. Horseback riding isn't recommended due to the risk of falls or being thrown from the horse. Skiing and scuba-diving are likewise poor choices during pregnancy. Don't do any exercises that involve you being flat on your back after the first trimester, as well.

Remember to always pay attention to what your body is telling you. If you have any unusual symptoms following a work out, talk to your health provider just to be safe. Don't let pregnancy keep you couch-bound. It's best for you and baby to get physically active.

Katlyn Joy is a freelance writer, and just graduated with a Master's of Arts in Creative Writing. She is mom to seven children, and lives in Denver, Colorado.

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