How to Stay Safely Active While Pregnant
Physical exercise can help improve or maintain your physical fitness and overall health at any stage of life. There is no stage in life where that is more important than during pregnancy, for both you and your baby. Keeping fit during pregnancy is important for many reasons, not the least of which is the relief of common discomforts of pregnancy. Maintaining a healthy, fit body can even help better prepare you for labor and delivery. Exercising during pregnancy is usually safe, and often recommended by your doctor. Safe forms of exercising can help alleviate low back pain, reduce stress, help ease constipation, control your weight, elevate mood, increase energy, promote good posture, improve circulation, sleep quality, muscle tone, strength, and endurance.
Your health provider will likely tell you to remain active if you were active prior to becoming pregnant, provided it is not uncomfortable and there are no other health conditions that would prevent you from exercising. This is not, however, the time to exercise for weight loss. You will not be putting yourself at risk for miscarriage by exercising during a normal pregnancy, and by maintaining your best level of fitness, weight loss after pregnancy should be easier.
Here are 10 tips to help you stay safely active while pregnant:
Always consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise regimen to receive recommendations and guidelines for remaining active while pregnant.
Plan your workouts. Schedule your workout days and times to increase the likelihood that you will make safe exercise a part of your daily routine.
Don’t overdo it. You don’t need to do marathon exercise sessions to get an adequate workout. Exercising just 20-30 minutes anywhere from three days a week to every day can be beneficial to maintain optimum health during pregnancy.
Take it easy. Low impact or no impact exercise will help get your blood flowing and decrease the risk of injury. Body weight exercises such as prenatal yoga, swimming, walking, and Pilates can be ideal for maintaining fitness.
Stay hydrated. It is very important to make sure you’re drinking enough water throughout your pregnancy, and especially when exercising.
For healthy energy to exercise, skip the sugar and caffeine and power up with fruit. Nibbling on ripe, seasonal fruit like bananas and apples can help boost energy levels in a healthy way to sustain you through your workout.
Get enough rest. Exercise alone is not enough to stay fit during pregnancy. Eating well, staying hydrated, and getting enough good quality sleep all contribute to a healthy pregnancy. Aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night, and don’t be afraid to hit the couch for an afternoon nap to keep your energy levels up.
Avoid abdominal exercises. After the first trimester, exercises such as crunches and sit-ups are not recommended, as they can interfere with proper blood flow, potentially reducing blood flow and making you feel nauseous or dizzy.
Use the right equipment. Stationary bikes, treadmills, rowing machines, and elliptical machines offer a great workout with little to no impact and give you an opportunity to exercise without risking a fall.
Do what you love. If you’re not into formalized exercise sessions and don’t want to commit to timed sessions every day, there are other ways to get your workout in. Try putting on some music and dance while you do housework, spend some extra time out in the garden, take the stairs whenever possible, or take the dog for an extra-long walk. Enjoy the sunshine and breathe in as much fresh air as possible.
Even if you didn’t exercise very much before you got pregnant, it’s okay to start now. Begin with 10 minutes of gentle exercise three to four times a week and gradually bump it up to half hour sessions as soon as you are comfortable. Don’t exercise to the point of pain, and if you’re nauseous or overtired, skip the workout session and take a nap. Treat yourself and your baby with tender loving care, and don’t stress over your workouts or lack thereof.
At Colorado Obstetrics and Women’s Health, our staff offers women in the Colorado Springs area personalized, comprehensive health care for all phases of life, from puberty through the childbearing years, into menopause and beyond. Give us a call today at (719)634-8800 to schedule an appointment for a pap smear, pregnancy test, or wellness exam. We look forward to helping you achieve your best health.