Exercising while pregnant
If you're pregnant, you may be more concerned with fatigue, frequent bathroom trips and nausea than you are with exercise, but there are a number of good reasons to make exercise a priority. Not only can exercise give you more energy and boost your mood, it can actually make your pregnancy more comfortable while giving your baby the best possibility of a healthier life.
You may struggle to find the time and energy to exercise, but a workout can actually help you feel more comfortable during pregnancy in a variety of ways including:
- More energy
- Fewer problems with backaches, bloating and constipation
- Reduced risk of gestational diabetes
- Better sleep
- Easier labor and childbirth
- Boosts your mood
- Reduced birth weight for your baby, which may reduce his or her risk of obesity later in life
Whether you're a new exerciser or a veteran, you'll need to talk to your doctor and get clearance to exercise. Many pregnant exercisers find they can keep going with their workouts with some modifications over time, but your doctor can give you specifics about your situation. If you're new to exercise, there's no reason you can't start while you're pregnant, unless your doctor has told you otherwise.
Studies suggest that working up to 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week is best, but you should start with what you can handle and gradually add time to your workouts each week. Try activities you enjoy and that feels good to your body such as:
Walking: Walking is a great choice for anyone, especially beginners because it's easy on the joints and something you can do just about anywhere.
Swimming: Swimming is another favourite because you get a total body workout while being supported by the water. Water reduces impact by up to 50% of your bodyweight if you're in waist-deep water, which may make exercise more comfortable. You can swim laps or try a water aerobics class for a no-impact workout.
Cycling: Riding a bike is a great no-impact workout, just be careful about your changing centre of gravity, which can throw off your balance. You may be more comfortable on a stationary bike or recumbent bike as your pregnancy progresses.
Aerobics: If you're a fan of aerobics or like something more choreographed, many gyms and fitness centres offer classes designed for pregnant women like water aerobics or low-impact cardio classes.
- Avoid exercises on your back after your first trimester
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and to avoid overheating
- Try not to exercise outside when it's very hot and humid
- Avoid contact sports or activities that increase your risk of falling like downhill skiing, racquet sports or horseback riding
- Stop the exercise and call your doctor if you feel any dizziness, faintness, headaches, bleeding, pain, contractions or shortness of breath
Whatever activity you choose, start easy and simple. Warm-up at an easy pace for at least 5 minutes and work at a moderate pace for as long as you can, even if it's only a few minutes at a time. You can gradually add time, working up to about 30 minutes of continuous activity. Give yourself a break if you feel sick, exhausted or achy and do what feels right for your body.
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