Exercise During Pregnancy
Keeping your body moving when you are pregnant is crucial. However, how should you exercise? What exercises are safe to do when you are pregnant? How do you get yourself up off the couch when you are feeling sick or tired out? These are great questions! There are so many benefits of exercise when you are pregnant. Exercise keeps you strong, helps you to stay positive, and helps you to get that pre-pregnancy body back afterwards.
The most important reason to exercise is to keep your body moving in order to be limber and strong. Pregnancy places a lot of stress on our ligaments, joints and muscles. If we don’t stay fit and just let are bodies go we are in danger of harming our bodies. Our growing body can put pressure on your back, neck, hips, knees you name it. By staying in shape you will be more likely to keep good posture and not let things get to out of alignment as you grow and keep your body free from injury.
Being pregnant releases a hormone called, relaxin. This hormone increases the flexibility of your joints and ligaments. This helps to keep you limber however it can be a negative as well. The fact that your joints are more limber than normal can cause you to stretch beyond your limits and injure yourself. Staying strong and having good posture will help to prevent that.
Staying strong will also benefit you in what will be one of the biggest days of your life. Birth Day! The amount of strength it will take to get through child birth is huge! The stronger you are physically and mentally the better prepared you will be to bring your child into this world!
Strengthening the muscles is not the only benefit for a pregnant body. Exercise improves circulation which is key to help with keeping your heart healthy. Not only that but circulation of the intestines which helps with constipation as well.
Exercise also helps you emotionally when you are pregnant. This is true even when you are not pregnant. Exercising can lift your spirits, raise your self-esteem and also relieve stress. The mind body connection is a real phenomenon. If you get moving your body it will only respond in a positive way.
You must speak with your doctor before you start an exercise routine when you are pregnant. It is crucial that you exercise but do it in a careful way. What you are able to do when you are pregnant will depend on what you were doing before you became pregnant. Obviously if you have a high risk pregnancy or complications that come up when you are pregnant you may not be able to exercise and if that is the case you will have to take it easy.
How to Exercise When Pregnant
Again how you are able to exercise when you are pregnant will depend on what you were doing before you were pregnant. In theory, if you are a runner you could continue to run, if you lift weights you could continue lifting. You could do the same exercises with less intensity.
I remember before I had children I saw a woman at my gym that was very pregnant and running on a treadmill. I couldn’t believe it. Now after being pregnant twice I still can’t believe it. I am a dancer and dance teacher and any kind of bouncing was very uncomfortable for me. I was told by my doctor not to jump at all. I was also a weight lifter and my doctor advised me against that as well. With my second pregnancy I did have a one and a half year old and did have to lift her. So everything in moderation right?
Exercises that are great when you are pregnant are:
- Light Dancing and Aerobics
- Swimming and Water Aerobics
I personally tried prenatal yoga when I was pregnant and loved it! It was relaxing, calming and peaceful and at the same time it really works your muscles. It helped me free up my mind as well as feel as if I got a good workout. Another form of exercise that I performed while pregnant was that I went for lot of walks with my husband. Being a dance teacher I danced with my students on a daily basis. I did have to modify my dancing however. Like I said above jumping was not comfortable and touching my toes was not always possible.
How Not to Exercise When Pregnant
Be careful when exercising when you are pregnant and really listen to your body. It is recommended that a pregnant women’s pulse not exceed 140 beats per minute. We don’t always wear a heart monitor when we workout so just be sure that you can have a conversation while you are exercising. If you are too out of breath to speak a sentence then you will need to slow down.
Make sure that you stay cool because overheating can cause problems for you and your baby. Keep in air conditioning and wear loose fitting clothes. Remember to also drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise.
Here are some examples of exercises to avoid:
- Heavy weight lifting
- Running (unless you were a runner before hand but still be careful)
- Jumping, bouncing, leaping
- Anything laying on your back after the second trimester (although my yoga teacher said this was okay – talk to your doc)
- Contact sports
- Anything where you might be hit in the stomach or could fall
Of course we want to be healthy and physically fit when we are pregnant. Now however is not the time to try to increase your fitness level or worry too much about how you are going to take the weight off. Worry about that later. Just take good care of yourself and take care of your growing baby too!