Pregnancy: Exercise During Pregnancy
What Exercises Should Be Avoided During Pregnancy?
There are certain exercises and activities that can be harmful if performed during pregnancy. Avoid:
- Holding your breath during any activity
- Activities where falling is likely (such as skiing and horseback riding)
- Contact sports such as softball, football, basketball and volleyball
- Any exercise that may cause even mild abdominal trauma, including activities that include jarring motions or rapid changes in direction
- Activities that require extensive jumping, hopping, skipping, bouncing or running
- Deep knee bends, full sit-ups, double leg raises and straight-leg toe touches
- Bouncing while stretching
- Exercises that require lying on your back or right side for more than three minutes. (especially after your third month of pregnancy)
- Waist twisting movements while standing
- Heavy exercise spurts followed by long periods of no activity
- Exercise in hot, humid weather
What Should an Exercise Program Consist of?
For total fitness, an exercise program should strengthen and condition your muscles.
Always begin by warming up for five minutes and stretching for five minutes. Include at least fifteen minutes of cardiovascular activity. Measure your heart rate at times of peak activity (your heart rate may range from 140-160 beats per minute during activity). Follow aerobic activity with five to ten minutes of gradually slower exercise that ends with gentle stretching.
Here are some basic exercise guidelines:
- Wear loose fitting, comfortable clothes as well as a good support bra.
- Choose shoes that are designed for the type of exercise you do. Proper shoes are your best protection against injury.
- Exercise on a flat, level surface to prevent injury.
- Consume enough calories to meet the needs of your pregnancy (300 more calories per day than before you were pregnant) as well as your exercise program.
- Finish eating at least one hour before exercising.
- Drink water before, during and after your workout.
- After doing floor exercises, get up slowly and gradually to prevent dizziness.
- Never exercise to the point of exhaustion. If you cannot talk normally while exercising, you are probably over-exerting yourself and should slow down your activity.
What Physical Changes May Affect My Ability to Exercise?
Physical changes during pregnancy create extra demands on your body. Keeping in mind the changes listed below, remember that you need to listen to your body and adjust your activities or exercise routine as necessary.
- Your developing baby and other internal changes require more oxygen and energy.
- Hormones produced during pregnancy cause the ligaments that support your joints to stretch, increasing the risk of injury.
- The extra weight and the uneven distribution of your weight shift your center of gravity. The added weight also puts stress on joints and muscles in the lower back and pelvic area, plus makes it easier for you to lose your balance.