• Exercising While You Are Pregnant

    woman walking exercise Exercise has many benefits during pregnancy. It can help relieve aches and pains, reduce constipation , strengthen your joints, and help you sleep better. It can also help you feel better about the way you look, prepare you for labor and delivery, and help you return to your pre-pregnancy body more quickly after your baby is born.
    For almost all women, exercise is safe throughout pregnancy. However, you should always discuss exercising with your doctor before you start. If your pregnancy is high-risk (eg, if you have pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, early contractions, vaginal bleeding, or are at risk of miscarriage or premature birth ), your doctor may advise you to limit or avoid exercise.
    If you were already exercising regularly before you became pregnant, you should be able to continue doing so during your pregnancy. You will likely need to make adjustments as your body and energy level change. Some studies indicate that you can safely start an exercise program during pregnancy even if you did not exercise regularly before your pregnancy. But it is especially important to talk to your doctor before doing this, because you will need to gradually add exercise into your routine.
    If your doctor has cleared you to exercise during your pregnancy, you should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity (eg, walking, swimming, aerobic dancing) on most days of the week. You should stop exercising if you feel fatigue, dizziness, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, or back or pelvic pain. You should be able to talk while you are exercising and should keep your heart rate below 160 beats per minute.
    Avoid becoming overheated by not overdoing it on hot days. Avoid exercising outside from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm during hot months.
    Certain exercises, including contact sports, downhill skiing, scuba diving, and horseback riding, should be avoiding because of the risk of injury. Also avoid activities that include bouncing, jarring, sudden changes in direction, and risk of abdominal injury. Avoid or modify exercises done on your back such as sit-ups and some types of yoga. These exercises may be uncomfortable. They can also limit blood flow to your baby.

    RESOURCES

    American Pregnancy Association http://www.americanpregnancy.org

    President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition http://fitness.gov

    CANADIAN RESOURCES

    The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada http://www.sogc.org

    Women's Health Matters http://www.womenshealthmatters.ca/

    References

    Exercising during pregnancy. Nemours Foundation website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/pregnancy%5Fnewborn/pregnancy/exercising%5Fpregnancy.html . Updated November 2011. Accessed December 26, 2012.

    Fit for two: tips for pregnancy. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Weight–Control Information Network website. Available at: http://win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/two.htm . Updated November 2009. Accessed December 26, 2012.

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