Once upon a time, women were advised to cut down on physical activity during pregnancy and stay home and rest, even to stay in bed. Like most fairy tales, this one turned out to be untrue. Now, we know better. As long as you have a healthy pregnancy, you can exercise while you are pregnant. Exercise is a benefit for you and your baby, but many rumors or myths surround the practice, making women wonder still in 2010 if it is safe to exercise during pregnancy.
Most Exercise Is Safe
While it’s true that women should avoid certain jarring and contact exercises during pregnancy, women shouldn’t be afraid of all exercise. One exercise that is safe but might not seem so is exercising your abdominals. Not only are they okay, but ab workouts can provide benefits. The abs should be strong during pregnancy and can aid in your delivery, says fitness instructor Sue Fleming for WebMD. Standing pelvic tilts, seated belly breathing and tightening the abs are good abdominal muscle exercises.
If You Already Exercise
If you exercised before you became pregnant, it is usually safe to continue doing so, including sports such as running. With any exercise, if you start to feel bad in any way, stop doing it and listen to your body. Even though you need to stop what you are doing if you feel dizzy or nauseous, that doesn’t mean that you have to stop for the duration of your pregnancy. Talk to your doctor and get some advice. In fact, it is a good idea to discuss any exercise plans you have with your doctor. Keep in mind also that you may not be able to exercise as hard as you did prior to pregnancy.
If You Don’t Exercise
Even if you did not exercise before you became pregnant, you can start after you become pregnant. Start simple by taking daily walks that last 10 minutes a day. You can gradually increase this to 15 minutes twice a day. This will benefit you more than sitting on the couch all day. Regular exercise can improve your posture and help you to sleep better. It can also reduce constipation, bloating, swelling and backaches, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
When You Should Not Exercise
Women with certain medical conditions, such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes probably should not exercise during pregnancy, according to WebMD. Some medical conditions related to your pregnancy are also not conducive to exercise, such as bleeding or spotting, pregnancy-induced hypertension or if you are at risk for miscarriage or have a history of early labor. Your doctor will help guide you on your best course of action.
Best and Worst Pregnancy Exercises
The best pregnancy exercises are swimming, brisk walking, riding a stationary bike, yoga, using an elliptical machine or doing low-impact aerobics. Tennis and racquetball are safe, but you may experience some problems with your balance. The worst exercises you can do while pregnant are ones where you are likely to fall, such as skiing and horseback riding, contact sports such as softball, soccer and volleyball, deep knee bends, full sit-ups and straight-leg toe touches. Jumping around and jarring the baby is not good, either. Avoid exercising in hot, humid weather and holding your breath during exercise.
Make your situation as ideal as possible when you exercise. Wear loose clothing, proper shoes and a good support bra, make sure you get 300 more calories per day than before you became pregnant, drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise, and do not over-exert yourself.
Remember, Always Ask Your Doctor
Your Doc will give you the right advice for your specific situation.