At one time, the idea of exercising while pregnant was considered taboo. These days, doctors are increasingly recognizing the benefits of a fit pregnancy for both the mother and baby. However, exercising during pregnancy must be done carefully, which is why it is important to keep these dos and don’ts in mind.
Do: Consult Your Physician
Any exercise program should be approved by your OB/GYN doctor. He or she will determine what, if any, modifications should be made to your routine. Listen to your doctor’s advice carefully to ensure your workouts are helpful rather than harmful.
Do: Create a Workout Based on Your Fitness Level
If you were unfit prior to becoming pregnant, now is not the time to begin training for a marathon. That doesn’t mean you can’t exercise, but what it does mean is that you should not begin a very strenuous workout until after you deliver and have recovered sufficiently.
Do: Modify the Intensity of Your Workouts
Jarring activities such as running may no longer be suitable as your pregnancy advances. This means you might want to modify the intensity of your workouts to include low impact aerobics or brisk walking instead.
Do: Stop Working Out if You Experience Nausea, Vomiting, or Dizziness
Even after seeking advice from a physician and carefully modifying your workout, you may experience symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or dizziness. If these occur, stop exercising immediately and seek medical attention.
Don’t: Perform Activities that Require Balance
During pregnancy, your center of gravity shifts, putting you at an increased risk of falling. As such, you should avoid activities such as riding a bike, horseback riding, or skiing, all of which require balance.
Don’t: Perform Exercises While Lying on Your Back
Exercises that are performed while lying on your back place undue stress on the spine – especially after the first trimester. After 20 weeks, this can also restrict blood flow to your uterus, (which can be up to 100 times its normal size), thereby increasing the odds of birth defects.
Don’t: Participate in Contact Sports
Contact sports such as dodgeball and racquetball are dangerous because a direct hit to the abdomen could result in a miscarriage. You may practice martial arts during pregnancy, so long as you take care not to push yourself and avoid sparring.
Don’t: Strain to Lift Heavy Weights
A Scandinavian study showed that light resistance training was generally a safe method of exercising while pregnant. However, straining to lift heavy weights can cause damage to the placenta and may even cause bleeding or spotting.
Don’t: Allow your Heart Rate to go Above 140 Beats per Minute
Exercising while pregnant requires you to keep your heart rate below 140 beats per minute, regardless of your age or fitness level. Any higher than that, and you risk overexerting yourself and significantly increase the odds of complications.
A survey published in Plos One indicates that half of all women tend to stop working out while pregnant, largely due to a lack of exercise advice from their providers. If you’re expecting, talk with your physician about these do’s and don’ts in order to come up with a healthy fitness program that will carry you to your delivery date and beyond.