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How To Exercise Safely While Pregnant

February 08, 2021

When you become pregnant, you’ll likely be inundated with advice from books, friends and relatives — from what to eat to how much sleep you need. You might also wonder if it’s safe to exercise, with some women concerned that working out could cause a miscarriage or premature delivery. However, according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), the benefits of continuing — and even starting — an exercise routine far outweigh the risks. Moms-to-be are encouraged to get 30 minutes of moderate activity daily. 

Benefits of Working Out

Before starting any exercise routine, the first step is to check with your doctor. And as your body changes throughout the pregnancy, you’ll need to modify your activity. Some advantages of staying active include: 

  • Increased energy and reduced stress. 

  • Lessened discomfort, such as backaches, constipation and trouble sleeping

  • Appropriate weight gain throughout pregnancy and after the baby is born

  • Fewer pregnancy-related health issues, such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes

  • Better prepared physically to give birth

Take Precautions

As your baby develops, normal fluctuations in hormones and weight gain can add strain to your joints and back, creating balance issues. Oxygen and blood flow are now being shared with your baby, so exertion also can cause dizziness or weakness. Moderation, rest and drinking plenty of water will help you avoid falling or becoming dehydrated. 

There are a few health concerns to monitor, and they even could lead to exercise restrictions. Pre-existing conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, anemia and lung disease can trigger other more serious issues. If you have vaginal bleeding, cervical insufficiency or are carrying multiple babies, you should remain more sedentary. 

Exercises to Try — and Some to Avoid

Regardless of your pre-baby activity level, there are a variety of low-impact, high-benefit exercises that you can work into your routine. Yoga and aerobic classes (especially prenatal) will keep your muscles strong and limber. Swimming provides cardio training with the added benefit of feeling weightless. And walking or jogging at a moderate pace gives you a full body workout and time to visit with your partner or friends. 

Avoid risky activities, such as skiing, soccer or horseback riding. You also should skip scuba diving, because it could cause dangerous gas bubbles to enter your baby’s bloodstream. And any high-altitude activity, such as mountain hiking, becomes riskier because of lowered oxygen intake. Skydiving checks a lot of those boxes, so it’s out, too!

Listen to Your Body

You should meet with your doctor before beginning an exercise routine and be aware of any unusual changes. Drink plenty of water, wear supportive clothes, always start with a slow warm-up and don’t get overheated. Avoid activity that encourages heavy lifting or jarring movement. And stop exercising immediately if you experience bleeding or leakage, contractions or cramping, chest pain or decreased fetal movement. With a bit of precaution, you can safely exercise throughout your pregnancy and beyond, ensuring you and your baby will have a healthy, fresh start together.

 

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