Did you know doctors recommend at least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity physical exercise? They do, and it applies to pregnant women as well. Now that the weather is nice again, you might be asking yourself what kind of activities you can do to stay active during your pregnancy. Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to keep yourself fit and healthy, and some of them even let you take advantage of the nice weather.
Before you get started, however, there are a couple things to consider. Were you especially active before getting pregnant? If your lifestyle was mostly sedentary before you got pregnant, it’s not a good idea to gear things up into hyper drive. It might seem like a good way to ward off unwanted weight or to compensate for increased food consumption, but actually, it’s counterproductive. If you go too hard, you run the risk of damaging your body, or worse, your baby.
With that said, the most important thing to do is to ease into any workout. Make sure you are stretching adequately and avoiding sudden, dramatic movements. High intensity workouts like contact sports and heavy weight lifting are discouraged. It helps to wear loose fitting, comfortable clothing, including a supportive bra. Make sure you are staying hydrated. You’re going to be sweating, and you need to make sure you are replacing that lost water and not overheating. It’s a good idea to wait at least an hour after eating before beginning any sort of physical exercise. Allow your food to digest to avoid stomach pains or discomfort. Now that we have the prerequisites covered, it’s time to jump into the specifics of what exercises you can do.
Chances are you are already walking a decent bit every day. Why not ramp it up a little bit and go for a brisk walk at least a couple times a week? You can always control how far or for how long you walk, and it is one of the safest exercises you can do. There is almost no risk of falling, it is low impact, and the positive effects on your heart and cardiovascular system cannot be understated!
As we mentioned before, stretching is a crucial component of healthy exercise, and yoga is a way to further that. Stretching can improve flexibility, and the breathing exercises found in yoga can be very relaxing. There are even specially-designed yoga classes geared towards pregnant women. It is very important to note you should avoid going flat on your back. Doing so can cause the weight of the uterus to press down on a major vein. This will make you feel dizzy and nauseous and could have effects on your baby as well. Use pillows for support as needed to keep yourself elevated.
Swimming is one of the healthiest exercises you can do. It helps strengthen the entire body, it is low impact, and best of all it takes the weight and stress off your joints and ligaments. Like walking, you can control the duration and intensity of each individual exercise, and there is minimal risk of fall or other injury. It is important to use the handrails for balance when entering or exiting the pool. Don’t dive or otherwise jump into the water, as the sudden impact can be harmful. Though it is an especially great workout for pregnant women, swimming is an excellent exercise for everyone. You might find yourself continuing to swim regularly even after your pregnancy!
Ok, definitely don’t sign up for the Tour de France while you’re expecting. But a light bike ride can be a great workout for your cardiovascular system, and it can strengthen your legs-which is great for that extra weight they are going to be supporting. It is of note that since you’re pregnant, your center of gravity has changed, and as such, you are more liable to fall off your bicycle. To be on the safe side, it is recommended that if you are going to ride a bicycle while pregnant that you choose a stationary bike. Like swimming or walking, you can control your distance and intensity, and you don’t need to worry about the logistics of where you are going to start or stop the bike ride. Plus, with a stationary bike you don’t need to load a bike in and out of your car or worry about traffic. You can start and stop at your own pace, go at your own schedule, and get a great workout.
- Weight training
Light weight training is a great exercise for pregnant women. Even if you are a bodybuilder, however, it’s probably not a good idea to go gung-ho with the weights while you’re pregnant. However, light weight training can be a great way to keep yourself active and keep your muscles strong. Focusing on your lower back especially can pay dividends; stronger back muscles can help support the weight you will be adding. Unlike most weight training, which is done indoors, you could bring a couple light weights or resistance bands outdoors!
- Whatever you do, stay safe
The importance of staying active while pregnant cannot be understated. Of course, you don’t have to make sure every physical activity you do is outdoors, but you should make sure everything you are doing is safe. Grab a partner if you can for everything you do. This can help you stay motivated in addition to making sure there is someone handy if anything should go wrong.
On that note, stop what you’re doing at once and contact a physician if you feel fatigued, develop pain that doesn’t go away, experience any sort of vaginal bleeding, or have regular contractions more than a half hour after exercise.
The most important thing you can do is to listen to your body. If it feels like you’re overdoing it, stop. Every person is different, and every pregnancy is different. If you are taking the right amount of precautions, there is no reason you shouldn’t be able to get those 150 minutes of exercise each and every week.