When you become pregnant one big question comes across your mind “Can I exercise?” In most cases, the answer is, yes!
In the past, it used to be common for practitioners to tell newly pregnant women, they were not allowed to exercise. Quickly, it was discovered that there were a lot more benefits to exercising, compared to not exercising. Exercising and being active during pregnancy benefits not only mom, but baby also!
I have done some looking and there are several things to keep in mind while exercising and being active during pregnancy. I have broken it down for everyone.
Warming up before exercising is always important, but even more critical when pregnant. Just like before pregnancy, if you do not warm up, you may experience aches and pains after workout. Pregnant women, will definitely experience these aches and pains if they do not warm up. When pregnant, your body is growing and changing. It is important to ease into activity and exercise.
Heart rate is a common thing that comes up when discussing exercise during pregnancy. Women will hear different target heart rates from different sources, but a common heart rate that is most commonly given is 140. It is not recommended to get your heart rate over 140. During the first trimester, most women are usually tired and do not have much energy; so staying at this heart rate is easy. Some women have no change in energy and can exert themselves way more. It is important for you to discuss this with your provider and come up with a target heart rate that makes everyone feel comfortable.
When you become pregnant, hormones are going haywire! One moment you may be sad and depressed, nauseous, stressed, and so on. Exercising brings out those good and happy endorphins! It may hard to get moving but, getting outside and being active can greatly improve a your mood.
Exercises to Avoid
Deciding what exercises to avoid will vary between each person. If you are very active and work out routinely, there will be less to avoid. Most commonly, you can continue to do what you have been doing. There are women who still run marathons, lift heavy weights and more while pregnant. The most important thing is for you to listen to your body. If you feel something is too much, hurts, or just feels “off” you need to cut back. There are certain activities and exercises that should be avoided while pregnant such as, scuba diving, horseback riding, mountain biking, skiing or any contact sport that may cause trauma to the abdomen.
Yes, eating fits into exercising while pregnant. If you are regularly exercising while pregnant, you are burning calories. It is very important for you to make up for those calories by eating healthy, lots of fruits and veggies, and high protein foods. Even though you may think you do not need those extra calories, your baby does!
WATER, WATER, WATER
Water is extremely, extremely important while pregnant. Not only is it important if you are lying around all day, it is even more important if you are active and exercising. Staying hydrated keeps the body temperature low while exercising, reduces aches and pains, and will help prevent contractions.
Look into prenatal exercise classes
Although, you are usually able to continue your normal exercise routine, it may be beneficial for you to research and find a prenatal exercise class. This may also be beneficial for women who have not been exercising prior to pregnancy, but want to stay active. Prenatal exercise classes are modified for pregnancy and the instructors have a special certification to teach prenatal classes. The fitness instructors are knowledgeable of the woman’s pregnant anatomy and know the dos and don’ts. It is also a great place to meet other pregnant mama’s and connect!
When to slow down
In the first trimester you may be able to workout like you did before pregnancy. As pregnancy continues, your body changes, and your baby grows; changes may need to be made. Listen to your body for changes such as these:
- Fatigue – Feeling a little fatigue after exercising is okay, but if you cannot recover like before, it may mean to start scaling a bit back.
- Joint or muscle pain – Joint and muscle pain comes with the “being pregnant” package, but it may increase even more if you are exercising too much. Any sharp pains, or aches, that is not going away after a day or so, after working out, cut back.
Reasons to STOP exercising
The number one reason to stop exercising would be if your practitioner has told you to do so, but there are also some other factors to look for.
- If you have been diagnosed with preeclampsia or any other form of pregnancy-related high blood pressure.
- Cervical problems
- Vaginal bleeding
- Lots of swelling
If any of these symptoms arise or anything else that may be abnormal, stop exercising, and let your practitioner know immediately.
Exercising while pregnant is not only great for you, but also baby. It boosts your energy and mood levels, helps you sleep better, prevents excess weight gain, and may help ease pain when you go into labor. It is important for to have an open communication with your provider about what your exercise routine is and if any changes are happening.