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Exercise During Pregnancy

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What Exercises Should Be Avoided During Pregnancy?

There are certain exercises and activities that can be harmful if performed during pregnancy. They include:

  • 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 such as 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.
  • Waist-twisting movements while standing.
  • Heavy exercise spurts followed by long periods of no activity.
  • Exercise in hot, humid weather.

What Should a Pregnancy Exercise Program Consist Of?

For total fitness, a pregnancy 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. Follow aerobic activity with five to ten minutes of gradually slower exercise that ends with gentle stretching.

Here are some basic exercise guidelines for pregnant women:

  • 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 Pregnancy Changes May Affect 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 extra weight also puts stress on joints and muscles in the lower back and pelvic area and makes it easier for you to lose your balance.
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