One reoccurring question I get from women who take my course is whether it’s safe to exercise or workout while pregnant. Clients in Calgary, Canada, address the issue immediately. I always recommend they speak with their healthcare professional first, since everyone’s body and circumstances are different. It’s particularly important if you haven’t exercised before you were pregnant. There are some general guidelines that everyone should follow to make exercising while pregnant even safer.
While there are no hard and fast rules that fit everyone, there are some generalizations.
One important factor is how active you were before you conceived. If you were involved in an exercise program or participated in an active sport, in most cases, exercising will be okay, at least early in your pregnancy. The type of activity you do will make a difference, too. Ones that involve body contact, jar your body or cause you to fall should be avoided. Those could include many martial arts and kickboxing activities, basketball, skiing and other types of contact sports. If you’ve maintained a workout schedule, look at each exercise closely. If they stress the abdomen, such as leg lifts, they could cause problems. Talk with your health care professional if you’re unsure about the safety of your activity.
Not only is each person different, each pregnancy is too.
Preexisting health conditions can make a difference. Heart disease, diabetes, asthma or other limiting conditions play a role in whether exercise is advised and how active that exercise should be. Anyone that’s had a history of miscarriages, has been diagnosed with a weak cervix or had spotting needs to proceed with caution with your health care professionals okay. It’s about both your health and the health of your baby.
If you’ve never lived an active lifestyle, you can still start a program of exercise.
Starting a program of exercise, even if you aren’t pregnant, requires caution. You have to take it slowly and avoid excessively vigorous workouts. For instance, you wouldn’t start training for a weight lifting competition or a marathon. There are some exercises that are easier on your body, such as walking, swimming or using a step machine. If you choose to ride a bike, make it a stationary bike, to avoid the potential of falls. Monitor the conditions to avoid exercising in either excessive heat or cold.
- Mild exercise, like walking, can actually help your pregnancy and delivery. It can also speed recovery after the baby is born. Even though lifting heavy weights should be avoided, light weights can prepare your arms for carrying a baby. Never lay on your back and lift weights.
- If you’re doing stretches, don’t bounce or hold your breath. Also avoid doing any exercises that involve twisting at the waist, those that are high intensity or high impact.
- There are exercises that can prepare your body for delivery and also help relieve back pain while you’re pregnant. Kegels, kneeling or standing pelvic tilts and cardio workouts are just two examples.
- It’s important to exercise even after delivery. It should be mild exercise, like taking walks. If the weather is appropriate taking your newborn for a walk can improve the health of both mother and child.
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