The Dos and Don'ts of Exercising While Pregnant

Exercising while pregnant can help reduce uncomfortable symptoms that occur over these nine months and help you go through labor and delivery more smoothly. Plus, regular exercise can make it so you’re better prepared to bounce back after your baby is born.

The focus of your workouts shifts when you’re pregnant, however. You aren’t exercising to burn calories, bulk up, or win races. Exercise during pregnancy intends to keep you feeling energetic, prevent excessive weight gain, reduce back pain, and enhance mood and sleep.

Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or a newbie to formal physical activity, follow some “do’s” and “don’ts” when working out while pregnant.

Do start gradually

If you were physically active, you can probably continue once you have a baby on the way, provided the activity is safe and doesn’t cause pain. If, however, being pregnant has inspired you to start a fitness regimen – start gradually with just a few minutes on most days. Keep the intensity manageable, such as that achieved during a brisk walk, and build up to the recommendation of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity effort for five or more days per week.

Do dress the part

Wear loose-fitting, sweat-wicking clothes so you feel comfortable and don’t get overheated. Choose shoes appropriate for the activity you’re doing. A supportive, well-fitting pair of cross trainers or running shoes can make you feel comfortable and stable, even when your feet swell.

Do hydrate

Drink plenty of water before working out and after. Take small sips while you’re moving, too. Dehydration can trigger early labor.

Do refuel after exercise

Ensure you’re eating enough daily to support your activity needs and the needs of your growing baby. A 30-minute walk may not require much in terms of calorie replacement, but if you’re still shaking it on the Zumba floor or jogging lightly for extended workouts, you need to refuel with healthy items – such as a bagel with peanut butter, calcium-rich yogurt and fruit, or a chicken sandwich.

Do listen to your body

If something doesn’t feel right, stop immediately, even if it’s an activity that was easy and comfortable pre-pregnancy. Dizziness, cramping, or pulling are indications that you need a break. If these symptoms continue beyond the workout, call the office immediately.

Don’t engage in high-risk activities

Avoid exercises that pose a risk of falling or trauma to your abdomen. Examples of such sports include trail running, cycling, horseback riding, and contact sports.

Don’t exercise outside on hot days

Exercise in hot, humid weather is more likely to lead to dehydration and overheating, which can be dangerous to your baby. Head to the gym to hit the treadmill or elliptical or take a walk in the local air-conditioned mall. And, on those hot days, drink a little more water – even if you were inside for your workout.

Don’t overdo the high-impact effort

Too much hopping, jumping, or bouncing puts a lot of stress on your body, plus it can jar the baby and the placenta. Though some women jog or dance successfully when pregnant, talk to the doctors about what level of impact is right for your body, pregnancy condition, and fitness level.

Don’t exhaust yourself

Use exercise as a way to boost your energy and stamina during pregnancy, not to wear yourself out. Exercising to the point of exhaustion when you’re pregnant exhausts your baby, too. Plus, your body will need to work extra hard to repair your worn out muscular, cardiovascular, and respiratory systems. This means less energy is available to build a healthy baby.

Exercise while you’re pregnant to promote a healthy birth experience, but be smart. If you have questions about how much or the types that are appropriate, talk to Dr. Patel.

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