It is recommended that pregnant women with a low risk pregnancy engage in moderate intensity exercise for 30 minutes a day, 4 times a week. Low risk pregnancies are those which are not otherwise constrained by medical or obstetric complications.
Appropriate physical activities to engage in during pregnancy are quite common sense. Any activities that have a low risk of falling, injury and joint and ligament damage should be chosen. This includes low impact activities that do not require too many quick changes to the center of gravity or depend predominantly on balance.
Many women enjoy dancing, swimming, water aerobics, yoga, Pilates, biking, or walking. Swimming is especially appealing; as it gives you welcome buoyancy (float-ability or the feeling of weightlessness). Try for a combination of cardio (aerobic), strength, and flexibility exercises, and avoid bouncing.
Warm Up: All exercise should begin with a warm up and cool down period. The hormones produced during pregnancy make women especially flexible in preparation for childbirth but this can lead to excessive stretching and pulling which can cause injury. Stretching should be done very gently, especially after the first trimester.
Walking: Many experts recommend walking. It’s easy to vary the pace, add hills, and add distance. If you’re just starting, begin with a moderately brisk pace for a mile, 3 days a week. Add a couple of minutes every week, pick up the pace a bit, and eventually add hills to your route. Whether you’re a pro or a novice, go slowly for the first 5 minutes to warm up and use the last 5 minutes to cool down.
Running: Running is safe in moderation for women that were running frequently before they became pregnant. It is not advised that women that have never run before take up running during their pregnancy. Depending on the individual, the running regime may need to lessen in intensity and frequency.
Water sports: Some water sports such as swimming, water aerobics and water walking are safe and fun sports. Swimming works almost all muscles in the. Water aerobics is great for cardiovascular fitness. Both these water sports are safe as there is no risk of falling or losing balance and the water supports body weight. The risk of muscle strain is low with water sports.
Weight training: Studies to date on light to moderate resistance training using free weights and weight machines during pregnancy have found no adverse findings in patients that regularly engaged in the activity before pregnancy. Women who have never engaged in weight training prior to their pregnancy should not begin once they have conceived.
Studies have shown that there are benefits from engaging in weight training while pregnant. Improvements in strength and flexibility are two major benefits. Light weight training will help the body adapt to the physiological changes that occur during pregnancy. Women may find they can tolerate their heavier body weight and altered center of gravity better with muscle strengthening that is gained from weight training, especially focusing on lower back strength.
Whatever type of exercise you and your doctor decide on, the key is to listen to your body’s warnings. Many women become dizzy early in their pregnancy, as the baby grows, their center of gravity changes. So it may be easy for you to lose your balance, especially in the last trimester.
Your energy level might vary greatly from day to day. And as your baby grows and pushes up on your lungs, you’ll notice a decreased ability to breathe in more air (and the oxygen it contains) when you exercise. If your body says, “Stop!” — stop