If you think being pregnant means you have license to camp out on the couch with your favorite television shows and a stockpile of pickles and ice cream, think again. Though rest and relaxation are important parts of a healthy pregnancy, regular aerobic exercise is equally important, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Aerobic exercise is any type of exercise that increases your heart rate and makes you breathe faster. Walking, swimming, bicycling and aerobics are all good aerobic exercises for pregnant women, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Like all healthy people, pregnant women should try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise most days of the week, according to the American Council on Exercise. Moderate intensity workouts for pregnant women should rate as a 12 to 14 on a scale of 6 — or no effort — to 20 –super-intense. If you’re not in good shape when you get pregnant, though, 30 minutes of exercise may be too much, so start with a 15-minute workout and gradually increase your exercise time.
Regular aerobic exercise can help make your pregnancy and giving birth a little easier. Getting aerobic exercise helps you feel better by eliminating common pregnancy complaints, such as constipation, back pain and insomnia, explains KidsHealth.org, an online parenting and health resource maintained by the Nemours Foundation. Aerobic exercise also helps you build muscle and stamina that will help your body more effectively manage the stress of labor and your recovery after giving birth.
Be careful about working up a sweat during your workout, since raising your body temperature above 102.6 degrees Fahrenheit can cause fetal development problems, especially during your first trimester, explains KidsHealth.org. Shorten your workout on very hot days or move indoors to an air-conditioned space to get your aerobic workout.
Talk with your doctor before adding any aerobic exercise to your fitness regimen, and let your doctor know immediately if you experience any pain, bleeding or cramping after exercise. Stop your workout immediately and rest if you feel dizzy, exhausted or short of breath, if you have lower back or pelvic pain or if your heart is pounding.