6 Tips for Exercising During Pregnancy
The obesity epidemic is front and center in the news on an almost daily basis. Escalating rates in the adult and child populations have garnered great concern from a public health standpoint. Recent studies suggest that obesity during pregnancy can cause a variety of complications for mother and baby. Already having obesity as you enter pregnancy can raise your risk of gestational diabetes. It can also raise the risk of having an abnormally large baby. Obesity during pregnancy may also set your offspring up for a much higher risk of developing obesity early in life.
Despite concerns decades ago suggesting that exercise during pregnancy is “dangerous,” we now know that maintaining a regular exercise habit during pregnancy offers a number of health benefits. It helps with energy balance and moderating excessive weight gain, helps to reduce stress, may help to maintain bone density, may prevent gestational diabetes and will help to build and maintain mom’s stamina which is needed for labor and delivery. It can also help to alleviate low back pain, a common complaint as pregnancy progresses.
Always check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program. If you have been exercising regularly before your pregnancy, there is likely no reason to discontinue your exercise regimen, even if it is robust. Again, just check with your doctor so he or she is aware of your fitness regimen. As you get larger and gain weight, you may have to modify certain moves or possibly downgrade the intensity of your efforts.
If you have asthma, diabetes (Type 1) or heart disease, you do need to establish safe exercise practices with your doctor. You and your doctor also need to communicate about modifying exercise routines, should any complications arise during pregnancy including bleeding or spotting. As you move through the nine months, certain unexpected health conditions can arise. Close communications and monthly visits with your doctor will likely identify any new issues that preclude your from exercising vigorously or that require you to modify your fitness activities.
Six tips to help you to exercise safely during pregnancy:
• If you’ve never exercised before, consider starting a walking program or using a stationary bike. Other good choices are low impact aerobics or a swimming program, after you consult with your healthcare provider. Aim for thirty to sixty minutes of exercise several days a week.. Remember that after you exercise it is still important to have physical movement throughout the day, to offset sedentary time.
• Lifting weights will help to maintain muscle mass which helps to keep your metabolic rate stable. It will also help specifically with stamina during labor and delivery. If you were already performing weight training regularly, you can continue to the program. If you are new to weight training then it may be a good idea to have a couple of sessions with an experienced personal trainer.
• Avoid holding your breath during exercising. You do need to adequately breathe and oxygenate during exercise, pregnant or not. If you’re pregnant, adequate oxygenation is crucial to your growing baby’s health as well.
• Make sure you hydrate regularly before, during and after the workout. You are drinking for two and there is also a lot of water shifting internally during exercise and during pregnancy. Water and unsweetened tea are your two “best bets” when it comes to hydration.
• Always warm up and cool down when exercising since your heart rate affects your growing baby. Depending on the conversation you have with your doctor, your heart rate should not exceed 140-160 beats per minute. Those heart rate goals should be personalized and based on your fitness level and any risk factors you have.
• If you do lie down on a bench or the floor to perform any exercises, make sure to get up slowly and find your center of balance. This will help you to avoid dizziness and the risk of losing your balance, since your center of gravity changes when you are pregnant.
Introducing or maintaining an exercise regimen during pregnancy will benefit you and your baby. Just remember to be sensible and communicate any concerns to your doctor immediately.
Also read: Fried Foods and Risk of Gestational Diabetes
For updates on HealthCorps and more health news sign up for our newsletter