3. If You’ve Never Exercised Before
Some women don’t like to exercise or
don’t exercise on a regular basis. When many of these women discover
they’re pregnant, they begin to think about the benefits of exercise;
they want to know whether it’s safe to begin an exercise program during
pregnancy. If you’ve never exercised before, you must discuss it with your healthcare provider before you begin.
It’s possible to start exercising now;
however, begin gradually. Your age may affect your ability to exercise.
If you’ve never exercised, you may find it a little more difficult to
begin because of less flexibility and tighter muscles.
Jasmine never liked regular exercise,
but she found being pregnant gave her the incentive and motivation to
engage in a health-club program specifically designed for pregnant
women. It helped her feel more in control of her health while she was
pregnant, and she felt she was doing something positive for her body.
After she delivered her baby, she continued exercising. She really
missed it if she didn’t.
If your pregnancy is uncomplicated, you
should be able to exercise as long as you’re comfortable doing so. The
key is not to do too much, too fast. Don’t be afraid exercising might
do something to hurt your developing baby; most moderate exercise is
If exercise is approved for you, start with a moderate
exercise program. Walking is an excellent choice. Riding a stationary
bike can be enjoyable. Swimming and other water exercises are also good
for a beginner; the water provides your body with a lot of support.
Prenatal yoga or pregnancy Pilates classes may be a good choice during
your first trimester.
4. Exercise Risks
Exercise during pregnancy isn’t without
some risks, including increased body temperature, decreased blood flow
to the uterus and possible injury to you. Your
age is probably not an important factor, however. Most experts
recommend you reduce your exercise to 70 to 80% of your prepregnancy
level. If you have problems with bleeding, premature labor or cramping
or have had problems in previous pregnancies, you may have to modify or
eliminate exercise, as advised by your healthcare provider.
We know the increased hormone levels of
pregnancy soften connective tissues, which may make your joints more
susceptible to injury. Avoid full sit-ups, double leg raises and
straight-leg toe touches.
It was once believed exercise could cause
preterm labor because of a temporary increase in uterine activity
following exercise. However, studies prove this isn’t a problem in a
normal pregnancy. The fetal heart rate increases somewhat during and
immediately after exercise, but it stays within the normal fetal range
of 120 to 160 beats a minute. A moderate exercise program should not
cause any problems for you or your baby.
5. Effects of Exercise on Your Body
You may notice some changes in how your
body responds to exercise during pregnancy. Your growing abdomen can
put a strain on your respiratory system; you may feel out of breath
sooner than usual. Don’t work out to the point you can’t talk or have
trouble breathing. At that point, you’re working too strenuously; cut
back on your workout.
You may need to alter the way you work
out. For example, breaking work-outs up into smaller increments may
help you fit them into your day. Four 10-minute walks may be easier to
accomplish than one 40-minute walk.
Avoid becoming overheated during your
workout. Work out in a well-ventilated room, and drink lots of water
while you exercise. Drink water before, during and after exercising;
dehydration may cause contractions.
If you’re doing free weights, sit down
when you can. In your third trimester, don’t lift more than 15 pounds
of weight. Instead, increase the number of reps.
Avoid the following sports activities during your pregnancy:
•riding on a snowmobile
•any contact sport