10 Tips for Safe Exercise During Pregnancy

Pregnant woman using an exercise ball

During pregnancy, exercise is very important. Labor is enhanced if you are physically fit; some research studies have shown women who exercise regularly spend less time in labor. It is important you prepare by setting up a regular exercise routine, but it is also important to find exercises that are appropriate.

With the health benefits and the improvement in mood, exercise can help you feel great during the busy nine months. Here some tips to get started.

Stay Safe While Exercising

When you are exercising during pregnancy, you need be safe and smart about your activity. There are some ideas that can make your workouts safer.

Check With Your Doctor

Although exercise during pregnancy is important, you should get the OK from your physician before you start. If you had not been physically active before the pregnancy, your physician may start you out slowly; however, women who are accustomed to regular exercise can often continue with their customary exercise routine well into their pregnancy.

Know if You Shouldn't Exercise

For women with certain medical conditions, it may be advisable to limit your physical activity. These conditions include the following:

  • A history of spontaneous abortions or premature labor
  • An incompetent cervix
  • Asthma
  • Bleeding or persistent spotting during the second or third trimester
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Placenta previa
  • Poorly controlled diabetes

Choose the Right Kind of Exercise

The best exercise for pregnant women need not be strenuous - or expensive. In general, the best exercises for pregnant women are those that get the heart pumping but are less likely to cause stress or injury for the woman or the baby.

Some examples of good exercises for pregnant women include the following:

  • Cycling
  • Dancing
  • Low impact aerobics
  • Swimming
  • Walking
  • Yoga

Tennis or racquetball may be appropriate for you, but there is a risk of falling. Discuss your interest with your physician.

Pregnant woman exercising in field

Know Which Exercises to Avoid While Pregnant

You should avoid activities that may have a high potential for injury, such as extreme sports or sports that may lead to hard falls.

Some risky activities include the following:

  • Contact sports
  • Horseback riding
  • Rock climbing
  • Skating
  • Skiing
  • Waterskiing

Pregnant women are often balance-challenged and should look for ways to prevent injury.

Avoid an Empty Stomach Before Exercise

It is best not to work out on an empty stomach. You should preferably eat a snack high in potassium, such as a banana, before beginning your workout. However, try to finish your snack about one hour before you plan to start your routine.

Stay Hydrated

No matter what, it is necessary to remain hydrated during your workouts. Water is a good choice for pregnant women -- sports drinks do contain large amounts of sugar, which you may not need. Your physician may have some advice about your consumption of sport drinks during your pregnancy.

Pregnant woman getting ready to workout at home

Wear Comfortable Clothing

You should dress for the occasion with loose or stretchy clothing and proper fitting exercise shoes that will protect your feet and joints. These will help you remain comfortable during your workout and aid in maintaining good balance and form while exercising.

Listen to Your Body

You should never exercise to the point of exhaustion. Pain in the hips, pelvis, chest, or head, cramping, and dizziness are all signs you may need to slow down or stop for the day. Another good indicator that you are overexerting yourself is a pulse rate over 100 beats per minute five minutes after you have stopped exercising. Stay hydrated and cool.

Stay Cool

Another tip is to avoid exercising in extreme heat or humidity and avoid hot tubs and saunas. Activity that raises a pregnant woman's temperature more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit is considered dangerous to the fetus because blood is redirected away from the uterus to cool the mother's body.

Stay Off Your Back

After the first trimester, it is a good idea to avoid activities that put you flat on your back or require you point your toes. Laying flat on your back can constrict the blood flow to the uterus, and pointing your toes may lead to leg and muscle cramps.

Enjoy Yourself

For the healthy pregnant woman, a sedentary lifestyle is not good for you or your baby. Use the time before the birth of your baby to prepare for the physical challenge of labor with some pregnancy exercise. Remember you don't have to exercise alone. Taking a class or exercising with other expectant moms may be fun, and you may make some new friends.

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10 Tips for Safe Exercise During Pregnancy