Exercise is an important part of maintaining one’s health. Exercising during pregnancy is just as safe and beneficial as any other time in your life. Although the way in which you exercise may have to be altered, exercise itself is not harmful to the mother or the child she is carrying. It is important to know your body and your limitations, and to do a little research on what exercises will be more beneficial than others during these delicate months.
Exercise in General
In general be sure to allow for enough warm up and cool down time. As the months in the pregnancy go on, the body will be able to endure less amounts of exercise. The amount of blood in your body increases approximately 50% during pregnancy and as such your heart will work a bit harder to pump it throughout your body. This will cause you to feel tired more frequently. Never allow yourself to get completely exhausted or out of breath from exercising when you are pregnant. Not only are you not allowing the proper oxygen into your system, you are doing the same for your baby.
A few other rules of thumb are not to do exercises where you must lay flat on your back. This may limit blood flow to your baby. Also be very careful of harsh exercises as your joints will not be able to hold quite as much. There will already be enough strain on your back so avoid lifting weights over your head because it may strain your back.
Suggested Forms of Exercise During Pregnancy
Some forms of exercise may be harmful during the pregnancy such as anything overly strenuous or that requires physical contact. Boxing, kick-boxing, wrestling, karate, and gymnastics are just a few examples of exercises prohibited during pregnancy.
Several recommended exercises are:
Your First Trimester
In your first trimester any form of physical exercise that does not involve harsh physical contact such as boxing, karate, etc, will be just fine and safe. In this stage of the pregnancy your body will tire marginally earlier than normal. It is important to stay hydrated while exercising and eat a healthy diet. The best exercises possible would be those to tone the abdomen and make the legs stronger. This will make things easier when you’re walking around with a little more weight that you’re used to.
Your Second Trimester
Your body is going to be tiring noticeably sooner during exercise sessions. As you will not be gaining approximately 4lbs a month until the end of the pregnancy there will also be added weight to make exercising a little more difficult. Two of the symptoms you are in your second trimester are dizziness and leg cramps while exercising or just performing daily activities. The dizziness is caused by your blood vessels being dilated due to hormonal changes. The leg cramps are due to the uterus putting pressure on the veins from your legs and may cause cramping. Floor exercises such as some yoga poses, gentle aerobics and stretching, and light weight training are recommended. Swimming is not recommended in this stage of the pregnancy as a cramp in the water or dizziness may cause for a serious situation.
Your Third Trimester
During your third trimester you can exercise if you feel up to it, but there will be many side effects that may prohibit most types. Backaches will become common as you may gain another 25-35 pounds during this trimester. You may get tired easily and have shortness of breath due to your uterus expanding below your lungs. You might also have swelling of your legs and arms from the pressure put on your veins from your growing uterus.
If these side effects are less than average or you still feel okay to exercise, great. Keep safety in mind as you chose your exercises. Yoga is one of the safest bets because there are poses safe for everyone. Just remember not to lay flat on your back, especially during your third trimester it will be harmful by limiting blood flow to your baby. Do not swim unless you have someone with you at all times, and always stop exercising if you feel short of breath or dizzy. At this time in your pregnancy you will have the highest blood pressure due to the increase in blood volume. This will make you tire more quickly.
Although exercising will get more difficult and exhausting as the pregnancy goes on, it is still important to maintaining your health.
The Mayo Clinic
The American Pregnancy Association