Pregnancy and Exercise Guidelines

Pregnancy and exercise, is it safe?

You may be wondering if it's safe to exercise while pregnant. If you're feeling well and experiencing a normal pregnancy, exercise is not only safe but also a great idea. If your doctor or health care provider gives you the go ahead, exercising during pregnancy will keep you fit and increase your stamina, leading to an easier labour and health benefits for baby too!

There are other benefits including reduction in back pain, less chance of varicose veins and an increased feeling of well-being.

Even though you may already be super fit and enjoy exercising, you may notice you're feeling rather tired and worn out during the first trimester (first three months of pregnancy). This is fairly common and nothing to worry about. Your body is going through some major physical and hormonal changes during this time which uses a lot of energy. If you're not used to regular exercise, start very slowly and build up gradually.

Listen to your body and do overdo it. Even 15 minutes of walking a day to start with will yield benefits. You can build up to 30 minutes on most days.

Pregnancy and aerobic exercise

Aerobic exercise can be continued while pregnant if your pregnancy is stable.

Walking is one of the best pregnancy exercises you can do. It builds stamina, increases heart lung function and won't stress your joints. Walking is also considered a weight bearing exercise which means it will keep you bones healthy and strong.

Swimming is another safe aerobic exercise. Swimming can be done every day without any problem, but it's not weight bearing so alternate it with other exercise such as walking or weight training (gotta look after those bones!)

Weight training - Just use common sense here. If your used to training with weights you should be able to keep going. However avoid lifting any weights while lying on your back as this will put too much stress on your spine.

Stationary bike - This is preferable to cycling as there is no risk of falling. It can be pretty boring though! Try it in front of the TV or while listening to music.

Yoga - This is fabulous. Don't try any extreme poses though.

Exercise and pregnancy classes - Some health clinics or fitness centres offer exercise classes especially for pregnant women. These can be useful as you will be supervised and shown how to exercise safely.

Make sure you drink enough water before and during exercise and avoid exercising in the heat especially during the first trimester. This is the time your baby's central nervous system is forming and overheating could lead to complications.

Risk factors associated with pregnancy and exercise

Although there are many benefits to exercising while pregnant, if you suffer with any of the following conditions, please start slowly and of course get the ok from your doctor.

  • heart problems
  • diabetes
  • high blood pressure

Any internal problems such as placenta previa which may cause bleeding, or a previous history of pre term births.

Stop immediately if you feel short of breath, dizzy, extremely tired or if you experience nausea, blurred vision or pain of any kind (especially abdominal pain). If these symptoms don't subside soon after you stop the exercise, seek medical attention pronto!

Pregnancy, exercise and weight gain

Whether for hormonal or lifestyle reasons, some of us do tend to gain weight while pregnant. Exercise can help stop you gaining weight which lowers your risk of gestational diabetes, a type of diabetes which affects only expectant mothers. Of course diet plays a major part in the weight battle too

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