Pregnancy and Fitness
Whether you were a couch potato or an elite athlete before your pregnancy, there are many reasons and ways to fit exercise into your routine now that you are expecting a baby. Exercise can help fight fatigue, manage hormones, and, of course, promote long-term health for both you and baby!
Is Exercise Safe During Pregnancy?
The short answer is yes! Exercise is safe during pregnancy. However, the types or amounts of exercise that is safe during pregnancies vary depending on your activity level prior to pregnancy or risk factors with your pregnancy.
“The first thing you need to do is talk to your doctor,” says personal trainer Tom Williams, “There are considerations. Your body will change. Talk to your physician and make sure they give you the thumbs up to exercise. 99 percent of the time, they will.”
After you get the thumbs up, you can return to your usual exercise routine.
“The general rule of thumb is anything you were doing before,” says Tom Williams, “If you were running before, you can go running. If you haven’t been ... Read more
“My wife jogged right up until probably the day before she gave birth. I have clients who run right up until it's time for labor. So it is safe to exercise and do high level activities while you're pregnant if you're used to that. Now if you're not used to that, then you want to start very slowly and work your way up doing the things that you're doing. And you want to minimize doing high risk things, because it's not what you're used to. That's when it's unsafe,” says author and nutritionist Del Millers.
“You can still work out in your third trimester,” says Tom Williams, “In fact, you can work out ‘till the day you give birth. Everything’s going to slow down. The general rule of thumb used to be that your heart rate shouldn’t get above 140. But physicians are recommending at least 30 minutes of exercise 4 times a week for a pregnant woman, right up to the day they’re going to give birth. It’s going to become obvious how much you can handle and how much you can’t. Listen to your body. That’s the most important thing.”
It is especially important to make time for exercise if you began your pregnancy overweight. If you’re overweight or obese during pregnancy, you are more at risk for preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, cesarean birth, or miscarriage.
Benefits of Exercising during Pregnancy
The benefits of exercise are numerous but highlights include:
Reduce backaches, constipation, bloating, and swelling
Boost your mood and energy levels
Prevent excess weight gain
Promote muscle tone, strength, and endurance
“The benefits of exercise during your pregnancy are enormous. While you're pregnant, your body is changing. And while your body is changing, you want to keep up with that. Exercising during your pregnancy will continue to increase muscle mass, strengthen your connective tissue, keep your bone density up, and allow you to be stronger during your delivery,” says Tom Williams.
“In our modern times, we don't do nearly as much walking as we were really created to do. For instance, we don't forage for food or work in the fields all day,” explains doula Mandy Schutt, “And when you are constantly walking, constantly moving, the body releases little burst of adrenaline. And what that adrenaline does in a pregnant body is tones the uterus. And as it tones the uterus, essentially creating little mini-contractions or pressure waves, as the uterus is being toned it positions the baby into the optimal position for birthing. And once the baby's in the optimal position for birthing, his head can press on the cervix and dilation is much easier.”
Top 5 Safe Exercises during Pregnancy:
- Walking – Get your cardio without any special equipment or extra cost!
- Swimming - Stay cool while the water supports your extra weight.
- Stretching – Hold each stretch for 10 to 30 seconds.
- Yoga (avoid power yoga or bikram yoga) - Move slowly and gently as your joints and ligaments are more relaxed during pregnancy.
- Indoor cycling – A great workout for the heart and lungs that is easy to control when you need a break.
Know Your Limits
Stop exercising and consult your doctor if you experience any of the following:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Painful contractions
- Other conditions