Can you exercise during pregnancy? It depends on your medical condition. Always ask your doctor for clearance. If he says yes—go for it! Exercise can help strengthen your body, preparing it for labor and controlling many of the aches and pains. It can help avoid excessive weight gain (which puts you at risk for gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia) and floods your body with endorphins, your body’s natural mood-booster. You’ll feel more upbeat and energetic, and that’s good for you, your baby and the people around you!
However, this is no time to go bunjee-jumping or sign up for the world wrestling federation. Take the right precautions so you don’t hurt yourself or your baby. Here are some tips for exercising during pregnancy.
1. Always get your doctor’s clearance for any exercise regimen.
Even if you don’t have a delicate pregnancy, you need to avoid any exercises that may trigger contractions or increase your risk for falls or bumps. Remember, your center of gravity shifts as your belly becomes bigger. It’s harder to keep your balance, and as your pregnancy progresses, your back will already be under a lot of strain. Tell your doctor about your exercise routines, so he can give you a better picture of how much you can exercise, and for how long.
2. Tell your trainer about your pregnancy.
If you go to the gym, the fitness expert can tailor a regimen that is safe for you and the baby. If you work out alone, consider investing in an exercise DVD that’s designed for pregnant women.
3. Choose the right routine.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, your work out should increase your heart rate and make you limber but avoid putting your body on too much physical stress. Obviously, avoid high contact sports, but even activities like scuba diving is considered dangerous because of the effect on the body. You can try swimming and walking, or stationary biking (which won’t put you at risk for tumbles and falls). Dancing and aerobics may also be fun. Many pregnant moms enjoy yoga, which stretches the muscles and can help prevent back pain.
4. Control your heart rate.
Invest in a gadget that you can strap on your wrists to monitor your heart rate. It should never exceed 140 beats a minute.
5. Drink lots of water.
Don’t wait until you’re thirsty! In fact, if you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Carry a water bottle at all times and take small sips. (The frequent breaks can also help prevent dizziness, which can lead to falls, and keep your heart rate at an even pace.)
6. Don’t exercise when it’s too hot.
You’ll loose too much body fluids and put yourself at risk for dizzy spells. It’s best to exercise in the morning, especially if you are engaging in an outdoor activity. Temperatures may be cool in the late afternoon, but if you exercise too late in the day you may have difficulty falling asleep–and you and your baby need the rest!
7. Get the right ‘support.’
Invest in a good sports bra and shoes that provide adequate heel and arch support. You may also want to get special maternity belts that support the belly and the back. (These are often sold in sports stores.)
8. Watch for any signs of problems.
Stop exercising and call your doctor immediately if you experience the following symptoms: sudden and severe abdominal and vaginal pain, contractions that don’t disappear if you rest or change position, contractions that last longer than half an hour, difficulty breathing, chest pain, severe and persistent headaches, nausea, and blurry vision.