Your providers at Professionals for Women’s Health believe that exercise during pregnancy is good for you. Because we know all the details of your history and your current condition, ask if your current fitness program is appropriate for pregnancy and right for your lifestyle and right for your baby. Exercise during pregnancy will help you to improve muscle tone and stamina, which may benefit you in the delivery room.
Guidelines for Safety
Exercising at least three times a week improves your muscle tone and stamina, but you also must listen to your body. A exercise physiologist can help you determine what is within your limits.
You may bowl, swim and do aerobic activity, but you must never exercise to exhaustion. While you are walking, dancing or doing stationary cycling, you should be able to carry on a conversation as you exercise. You should drink plenty of water and avoid becoming overheated.
We suggest that you avoid exercises that require precision, balance and coordination. Your weight-bearing exercises should be decreased. After the first trimester, avoid exercises that require lying on your back. As your pregnancy progresses, decrease your exercise level. For example, if you are a runner, switch to walking one month before delivery.
Other guidelines include:
- Warm up before exercise.
- Cool-down and stretch afterwards.
- Exercise from 20 minutes to 1 hour, depending on intensity. Moderate exercise should last no more than 30 minutes.
- Replace fluids before, during and after exercise.
- Increase your caloric intake to replace calories burned while exercising.
- Wear a supportive bra and shoes.
- Stop exercising immediately if you have shortness of breath, dizziness, numbness, abdominal pain and cramping, bleeding or rapid heart rate.
Women who have risk factors predisposing them to premature labor may have to restrict their activity significantly during the latter part of pregnancy.
Rest is equally important to your health. During the second half of pregnancy, we recommend that you rest on your left side for an hour each day, either at lunch time or after work. This increases blood flow to your baby and to your kidneys.