Your Pregnancy After 35 : Exercise during and after Pregnancy (part 2) - Exercise Risks, Effects of Exercise on Your Body

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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 safe.

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:

scuba diving

water skiing


horseback riding

downhill skiing

cross-country skiing

riding on a snowmobile

any contact sport

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