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Is it Safe to Workout During Pregnancy?

It seems that there are many do’s and don’ts regarding your lifestyle that you probably never considered until you became pregnant. Exercise and maintaining a fitness routine is just one of the hot topics of pregnancy discussion. While keeping fit and maintaining an active lifestyle throughout your pregnancy can help keep you healthy and ward off some unpleasant pregnancy symptoms, some precautions are necessary.

Benefits of Exercising During Pregnancy

Multiple studies have shown that regular exercise throughout your pregnancy can provide a number of helpful benefits. These include reducing unpleasant symptoms such as fatigue and backache as well as improve posture. Continuing to workout while expecting is also shown to help prevent gestational diabetes, relieve stress and better prepare your body for labour and delivery.

Often, even the most active women are surprised at just how much their pregnancy can impact their workouts. Nausea and fatigue are two very common symptoms that can hinder your regular workout routine. First and foremost, it is important to not try and push yourself to your pre-pregnancy fitness level and standards. It will be necessary to adapt your workout routine to ensure that you stay comfortable and safe. Low impact activity is strongly recommended, such as swimming or walking.

Before you plan to continue your existing workout routine or start a new pregnancy exercise regimen, make sure to follow these important steps.

Ask Your Doctor

Certain conditions in pregnancy may warrant exercise to be off-limits. For the most part, if you are healthy it is fine in moderation. Always make sure to consult with your doctor first to be given the green light. If you are someone that used to be a couch potato and your pregnancy has motivated you to begin a more active lifestyle, it is also important to connect with your doctor first for advice on what activity or home fitness routine will be suitable for you.

Drink Water

Staying hydrated while pregnant is incredibly important. If you become dehydrated, a reduced amount of blood reaches your placenta which increases the risk of overheating and can potentially trigger contractions. Be sure to drink plenty of water before, during and after your workout – even if it is just walking. While there is not an official recommendation for how much water a pregnant woman needs to drink while exercising, having one or two glasses each hour is a good starting point.

Avoid Certain Sports

There are certain sports which elevate your risk of losing your balance or falling that should be avoided during pregnancy. These can include contact sports such as hockey, basketball, and soccer as well as surfing, downhill skiing, water rafting and horseback riding. There are even some sports and activities that are dangerous in early pregnancy, like scuba diving, as the womb cannot protect the fetus from the effects of pressure changes.

Avoid Humidity and Heat

With pregnancy comes increased blood flow and a higher metabolic rate which can cause you to feel warmer than usual. Add exercise to the mix and you can become overheated much quicker than you normally would. If it is hot or humid outside, it is best to avoid exercise as your body will have a harder time regulating its temperature.

While exercising, if you start to feel overheated, stop your activity immediately and remove any layers to cool off. If possible, move yourself to a cooler environment such as an air-conditioned room or take a cool shower. As overheating can happen quickly, avoid activities like sitting in a sauna, Bikram yoga or hot pilates.

Proper Warm Up

Pregnancy is known to come with a whole assortment of sore muscles and joint pain, so the last thing you want to do is add to the problem. Take the time to properly warm up and cool down. Start your workout slow, such as walking to loosen muscles for a few minutes and once you have finished, perform some light stretches to cool down.

About the Author

Ann Kaknon has been in the fitness industry for over 10 years including work as a dietician, personal trainer, and athletic trainer.  She now spends her time at home with her kids and writing about her fitness experiences on the side.  If you want to contact her you can do so on her LinkedIn.