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Should You Exercise During Pregnancy?

By; Aarti Patel Email By; Aarti Patel
October 2010
Should You Exercise During Pregnancy? Exercise may be the last thing on your mind during your pregnancy, but do you know that women who exercise during their pregnancy experience fewer problems with excessive weight gain, fatigue, cramps, constipation, swelling, varicose veins and muscular discomforts?

First of all, talk to your doctor and get his/her consent to exercise. Secondly, there are a few things that pregnant women should keep in mind when exercising. It is important to note that a pregnant woman’s body is in a constant state of work. At all times, a pregnant woman’s body is as if she is performing a low level of exercise even at rest, with increased respiration and heart rate. It is, therefore, important that any exercise a pregnant woman is involved in should be of low to moderate intensity. Also, keep in mind that certain hormones produced during pregnancy soften the ligaments around joints and decrease joint stability, thus leaving the pregnant woman more susceptible to falls and injury.

What are some exercises that you can safely perform during your pregnancy? During the first trimester you may safely continue your regular exercise routine at a moderate intensity provided nausea and fatigue permit you to do so. This could include any group fitness class or brisk walking. In a group fitness class, it is important to let the instructor know of your condition so she can monitor you during class. Consistent exercise (three times a week) is better than intermittent activity. A light weight (strength) training program (under the supervision of a qualified trainer) is also ideal in order to maintain your strength for the big day. Regular strength training will enable you to perform activities of daily living without much fatigue.

During the second trimester any exercise that involves leaping, jumping, kicking, balancing, stepping or high impact should be avoided. Any exercise that requires being in the supine position, such as sit-ups and crunches, should also be avoided. A low impact aerobics class is ideal. Activities such as water aerobics are soothing and relaxing during this time. You may also join an exercise class especially for pregnant women, where you can be monitored for fatigue, strain and discomfort. Make sure that the class is small in size and individual attention can be provided.

During the third trimester water exercises can be safely continued. Make sure that the water temperature is cool and be cautious when walking in slippery areas around the pool. Working out in water eliminates issues with balance and the weightless feeling in water is soothing for pregnant women. However, do avoid using forceful kicks and jerking movements as they can place stress on the joints. Walking for a long period may be difficult during the later stages of pregnancy. An alternate choice is riding a stationary bike. Make sure the bike has a back support and a cushioned seat. Remember to ride at a low to moderate pace.

If during your exercise session you feel light-headed or dizzy, or experience sharp pain, vaginal bleeding, irregular heartbeat or severe fatigue, stop exercising and immediately call your doctor.
What is the best exercise for pregnant women? Kegels, of course! Kegel exercises help to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor, which are used during the pushing stage of labor. Performing Kegel exercises also helps maintain bladder control after pregnancy and improves the muscle tone of the vagina while promoting healing and circulation. Perform Kegels by contracting the pelvic floor muscles you would use to stop urinary flow. Hold the contraction for up to ten seconds and release. Do three sets of ten, a couple of times a day. Kegels can be done anytime, while talking on the phone, driving, watching a movie, sitting at your desk and even decorating that nursery!

The information in this article is not to be considered as medical advice. Please see your doctor before beginning and/or continuing an exercise program during your pregnancy.

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