Exercise during pregnancy is a terrific way to help your body prepare for childbirth and keep from gaining excess weight during pregnancy. It will also help you lose weight after childbirth.
If you choose to exercise during your pregnancy, there are some important guidelines that you should follow.
- If you have been exercising regularly, you can generally maintain your fitness routine throughout your pregnancy. It is important that your program does not violate any of the other guidelines below.
- If exercise is new to you, you should start very slowly and perform exercises at a very low intensity level.
- Listen to your body. It will give you signs to let you know if you are working too hard. You should never exercise to the point of exhaustion or breathlessness. Do not worry about maintaining a high heart rate level. You may be your own judge. If you feel you are working at a 5 on a scale of 1-10, you are working hard enough.
- Take breaks as necessary and drink a lot of water. Water is important in helping your body maintain the proper temperature for the baby.
- Do not exercise in hot weather. It is better to exercise inside in the air conditioning.
- Do not wear restrictive clothes that will limit blood flow.
- Avoid any contact exercise such as athletics, kickboxing, or high impact activities such as jump roping unless approved by your doctor. Consider using low impact exercise equipment such as treadmills or ellipticals.
- If you do exercise outside, avoid unstable surfaces.
- During the second and third trimesters, avoid pregnancy exercises that require you to lie flat on your back. This will decrease blood flow to the baby.
- Understand that your body changes during pregnancy. One of the major changes is that it releases a chemical called elastin. This chemical causes your ligaments and tendons to be more lax preparing your body for child birth – remember this while exercising. At this time, it is very important to work each exercise in the proper range of motion.
- The final and most important guideline is to listen to your doctor. Every pregnancy is different, and only your personal physician knows what is best for you. Discuss all the details of your exercise and diet routine with your physician to get their approval before you implement them. This is a must!
Have a wonderful pregnancy and best of luck to you and your family.
Jim Bompensa has been a health club owner and manager, personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and nutrition specialist for the nearly 15 years. He is currently the owner/operator of Body Physics Fitness Center in Haddonfield, NJ. Jim has appeared and contributed on ABC and NBC in Philadelphia, PA as well as Designing Spaces on TLC.