While pregnancy requires that you alter your workout routine, exercising is safe and can have many health benefits. However, before running your next marathon or signing up for a yoga retreat, talk to your doctor to be sure that your activities keep you and your baby healthy.
What are the benefits of exercising?
Exercising during your pregnancy can help reduce back pain, ease constipation, promote healthy weight gain and could help you to lose weight after your baby is born.
If you’re diagnosed with gestational diabetes, talk with your health care provider about the best ways for you to manage your condition.
What type of activities are safe?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends walking, swimming, water workouts, stationary bicycling, modified yoga and Pilates. If you are an experienced runner or racket-sports player, you may be able to continue your activity while pregnant but should discuss your options with your health care provider.
Dr. Shereen Binno, an OBGYN with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group, tells her patients, “If you’re already in a stable workout routine; have a simple, uncomplicated pregnancy; there are no fall risks; and your center of gravity isn’t thrown off, then you’re OK to continue what you’re doing.”
Activities to avoid include contact sports like ice hockey, boxing, soccer, basketball, sky diving, scuba diving and heated practices of yoga and Pilates. Pregnant women should also refrain from downhill skiing, water skiing, surfing, off-road cycling, gymnastics and horseback riding.
“Pregnancy is a healthy condition,” Dr. Binno adds. “But listen to your body. If you feel any pain or contractions while exercising, it’s time to revisit your workout.”
If you’re starting an exercise routine during your pregnancy, Dr. Binno recommends walking 20 minutes a day and then building it up to 45 to 60 minutes, four to five days a week.
What precautions should I take while working out?
Hydration is important for your workout. Make sure that you drink plenty of water before, during and after exercising. Dark yellow urine is a sign of dehydration; urine should be light yellow or clear. In addition to staying hydrated, avoid overheating by wearing loose-fitting clothing and exercising in cooler temperatures.
Don’t forget to wear a supportive sports bra and, later in your pregnancy, a belly band may be needed to reduce discomfort.
Avoid lying flat on your back. The weight of your uterus places pressure on a major vein that can reduce blood flow to your heart. This may result in dizziness, shortness of breath and nausea.
Dr. Binno also recommends not using energy drinks while exercising due to their caffeine content. Supplements that may have been taken before pregnancy should be discussed with your health care provider.
When should I not exercise?
You may need to stop exercising if you have any of the following health issues or pregnancy complications:
- Some types of heart and lung disease
- Cervical insufficiency
- A pregnancy with multiples and risk factors for preterm labor
- Placenta previa
- Preterm labor or ruptured membranes
- Preeclampsia or high blood pressure caused by pregnancy
- Severe anemia