Ask your doctor about a safe exercise program. Yoga, swimming, walking, and other low-impact and moderate-intensity exercises can be very beneficial during pregnancy. Be sure to stay hydrated, take breaks, and avoid getting overheated. Avoid exercises that strain your back and belly, Rice says. Exercises that are off limits during pregnancy include contact sports and activities such as skiing, water skiing, bicycling, and horseback riding, due to the risk of falls and abdominal injury.
It's Been a Rough Week and You're Wiped Out
Exercise may help cut your stress and boost your energy. So put on your gym clothes and start a moderate workout. “After 10 or 15 minutes, chances are you will feel fine and want to continue,” Rothstein says.
Don't Rush Your Comeback
Don’t dive right back into your regular exercise routine after being sidelined by an illness or injury.
It takes a lot of energy to maintain muscle strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular fitness -- and little time to lose it. “Noticeable decreases in exercise capacity can be seen in as little as two to three weeks,” Rothstein says.
Return to exercise slowly and carefully.
That's what Shannon Hurt, a 32-year-old Atlanta mom, has been doing. An avid walker/runner, Hurt was a week away from participating in a 5k when a test revealed she had an irregular heartbeat and thickening of the heart muscle. Exercise was off-limits until more tests could be completed.
That was several months ago. Now, Hurt has a prescription for heart medication -- and doctor's orders to ease back into her workout regimen.
“The cardiologist said to slowly return to exercising, starting with walking for 20 minutes or so each day and build back up to running,” Hurts says. “He wants me to eventually get back up to 5 days a week at a minimum of 45 minutes of intense cardio.”
Easing Back Into Exercise
Walking is a great way to return to exercise without overtaxing the body, Rice says. Here is his advice for returning to exercise from a break, injury, or illness:
- If you were away from the gym for less than a week, start at 80%-90% of your original intensity and slowly increase it from there.
- If your break lasted longer than a week, reduce your intensity to 50%-60% and increase by 10% each week.