Unfortunately, there is a lot of outdated information still circulating that scares women away from exercising while they are pregnant. Unless your pregnancy is very high risk and your doctor has ordered you to stay in bed there is no reason you can’t exercise while pregnant.
Studies show that there are many benefits to exercising while pregnant. You can improve your energy levels, improve your circulation, and recover quicker post-pregnancy. Moms who worked out while pregnant generally had shorter and easier labors.
Here are some safe exercises that are recommended during pregnancy:
Walking: This is the best overall exercise for pregnant women! It is low impact but still gets your heart rate up and your blood pumping. Walking is usually safe throughout the entire pregnancy.
Jogging: Jogging can be done safely if you were jogging prior to getting pregnant. It may be less comfortable as you get farther along which would be a good time to back off and switch to walking. If you are not able to have a conversation when jogging, then you are working out too hard.
Swimming: This is a wonderful exercise for pregnancy. Swimming alleviates the heaviness you feel from weight gain associated with pregnancy. It also provides you with optimal cardiovascular benefits and helps you feel light and refreshed.
Yoga: Yoga can help you maintain your muscle tone and stretch out tight ligaments during pregnancy. Be sure you find a prenatal yoga class if possible. There are some limitations such as inversions, excess twisting, lying on your back or stomach, etc., but a good yoga instructor will be able to help you adapt. Hot yoga, and Bikram yoga should be avoided.
Weight Training: Weight training is another great way to maintain and build muscle during your pregnancy. Just keep in mind you should avoid heavy weights, and weight bearing exercises that require you to lie flat on your back after your first trimester. In general, anything you were doing before pregnancy, you can continue. If you were not doing anything before it is safe to stick to lighter weights and higher reps.
To be safe you should always consult with your doctor or physician before beginning an exercise program. Most pregnant women are fine to work out, particularly if they have been active before. Though, you should avoid beginning a new strenuous exercise program.
If your doctor has suggested bedrest or limited activity, there are often still exercises that you can do with resistance bands, core exercises using deep breathing techniques and moderate walking.
When beginning a new program, be sure to take it easy initially, and commit to exercising regularly. Generally 30 – 60 minutes of exercise 4-7 days per week is recommended.
Be sure to stay hydrated and avoid becoming too overheated, which can be dangerous for you and your baby. Stop any exercise if you start to feel dizzy or lightheaded. And, above all, listen to your body!
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