Exercising When Pregnant: What You Need to Know
In addition to eating right and getting the right vitamins and nutrients, you can also improve both the health of you and your baby with some light exercise. But before you dive right back into the pool or head over to the gym, here are some things you should know about exercising that will help keep you and your baby safe.
Aside from the obvious physical limitations that make exercise difficult during pregnancy, changes in hormone levels also cause the ligaments in your joints to become more relaxed, which ultimately puts you at a greater risk for injury.
So why would you want to exercise if it might be physically painful and dangerous?
Well, there are a ton of benefits. If you devote at least 30 minutes a day to exercise, (as recommended by the The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists), limited physical activity can improve your mood, sleep and even posture. It can also lessen the discomforts that come along with pregnancy, such as backaches and fatigue. As if those perks alone seem great, working out has also been found to lower your risk of gestational diabetes and stress. And as you tone your muscles and build strength and stamina necessary for labor and delivery.
The best way to exercise safely? First, you should get the okay from your doctor and make sure you don’t have any conditions that would prevent you from being able to exercise. Otherwise, you can try some of these low-risk activities and stretches:
- Low-Impact Aerobics
- Brisk Walking
- Elliptical machines
- Indoor stationary cycling
- Jogging, if you were a regular runner before pregnancy
- Safe exercises
As you would probably expect, there are also plenty of restrictions to exercising while pregnant. Here’s a list of what you should avoid:
- Contact sports, such as softball and basketball
- Hopping, jumping, bouncing
- Deep knee bends
- Full sit-ups
- Waist-twisting stretches
- Quick movements, especially ones that require you to change directions suddenly
- Long pauses in breathing (you should always be breathing to keep you and your baby properly supplied with oxygen!)
- Exercise in hot and humid weather
- Inconsistent exercise (avoid exercising in sudden bursts after longs periods of being sedentary)
Be sure to drink plenty of water before, during and after your workout. And stay alert to signs that your body has had enough— stop exercising if you feel any sort of pain, have trouble breathing, or if you’re feeling nauseous, dizzy and are experiencing vaginal bleeding or discharge.