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Exercise During Pregnancy: Myth vs. Fact

Experts say what's safe and what's not safe when it comes to staying fit during pregnancy.

Myth or Fact: Not every exercise is safe to do during pregnancy.

Fact. Exercises involving balance, like biking or skiing, or contact sports like soccer, can be risky during pregnancy. "After the fourth month, your balance is affected. So that's when you don't want to do anything that will put your body in an unstable position, which is any exercise or activity that requires balance," says Fleming.

Myth or Fact: If I exercise too much during pregnancy, I will pull nutrients from my baby so he/she won't grow properly.

Myth. "The reality is that your baby is going to get what it needs. So if anything, you'll have a dip in your own nutrient stores, but your baby's stores will be fine," says Riley. The way to avoid any problems for you, she says, is to keep blood sugar levels balanced by eating smaller, more frequent meals. "Babies of mommies who exercise during pregnancy are born leaner, but organ size and head circumference are normal. So don't be afraid to exercise during pregnancy," says Riley.

Myth or Fact: If I never exercised before pregnancy, now is not the time to start.

Myth. "If you never excised before, pregnancy is not the time to become the exercise bunny. But that doesn't mean you have to spend nine months sitting on the couch," says Riley. Something as simple as taking a daily walk or going for a swim can do wonders for your pregnancy, and make you feel better as well. Fleming says it can also help you combat the fatigue of pregnancy and help you sleep better at night. And, she says, you can start slow.

"Ten minutes a day is a great beginning. Then increase it to 10 minutes twice a day, then gradually go up to 15 minutes. Even just walking around the block is going to have important benefits," says Fleming.

Myth or Fact: Any sign of trouble -- like spotting or pain -- means I should stop exercising and not do it any more during my pregnancy.

Myth. While signs of pain, spotting, lightheadedness, nausea or dizziness are all reasons to stop exercising immediately, it doesn't necessarily mean you will have to give it up forever. "What it means is talk to you doctor. Tell her exactly what you felt and what you were doing when you felt it, how long it lasted, and the severity. And then ask for her advice as to whether or not you should continue with an exercise program," says Riley.

ACOG lists these warning signs to stop exercising and contact a doctor: vaginal bleeding, fluid leaking from the vagina, decreased fetal movement, uterine contractions, muscle weakness, calf swelling or pain, headache, chest pain, increased shortness of breath, dizziness, or feeling faint.

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Reviewed on February 06, 2009

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