Just because you got pregnant doesn’t mean you have to put things on hold, especially exercise. In fact, having a pregnant exercise routine can improve your health, wellbeing, and allow you to handle the day-to-day challenges you face as an expectant mother. Exercise gives your body and mind plenty of benefits, including impoved circulation, heart health, and can prevent complications like gestational diabetes.
The rule of thumb of exercise still applies during pregnancy: exercise with caution and do not overdo it. Most exercises are safe to perform, whether using weights, cardio, or playing sports. If it is unsafe to do when you’re not pregnant, it becomes even more dangerous to do them when you are. Of course, contact sports, combat training, or sports involving risk of falling should be avoided entirely.
Swimming, brisk walking, stationary cycling, and low-impact exercises are both safe and effective forms of exercise activities. They carry low risk and can be performed until you give birth. Just make sure that you stay safe and pay attention to your body when something doesn’t feel right.
Running and jogging are excellent exercises, as women who run experience less weight gain during pregnancy, shorter labors and healthier babies. Low impact aerobics, as long as you have the guidance of a certified instructor, can be of great benefit for you and your baby.
Sports such as tennis and racquetball are also safe activities to enjoy, but with some precautions. These sports require some rapid changes in direction, as well as some quick reflexive movements. Bear in mind that your body is changing, you’re gaining weight, and your center of gravity is ever shifting. High impact aerobics, which involve jumping, hopping, and bouncing, are not recommended and should be avoided. The same goes for plyometric exercises known for explosive movements, and increased risk for injury to your joints.
During exercise, it’s important to drink plenty of water and avoid fatigue or pain. Monitoring your heart rate is crucial as well, especially when you’re in your second trimester. The recommended exercise heart rate you should achieve is less than 140 beats per minute, since a faster heartbeat means lower delivery of oxygen to tissues, including your placenta and developing baby.
By the time you reach your third trimester and late pregnancy, you’re probably going to slow down your exercise routine by choice. At this point, swimming, stretching, biking and brisk walking can help increase circulation and keep your muscles strong. It may be good to include a friend when you exercise, so long as you’re not straining yourself or involved in any high impact or contact sports.
After your baby is born, you may be anxious about getting back on track. However, it’s important to ease back into the routine you followed before getting pregnant. Walking, yoga, and stretching can help your body get back into the right condition. Starting about six weeks post-delivery, you can resume a light exercise regimen. Soon after, you can get back on track to the fitness level you were previously accustomed to.