Safe & Fit Pregnancy Tips
Is it safe to exercise during pregnancy?
This is a question that can only be answered on a case by case basis by your doctor.
The good news however is that on average, most women, even those who are not in good shape, benefit from low-impact forms of exercise during pregnancy.
The following 7 safety tips are designed to help you stay safe, healthy and active throughout your pregnancy.
Consider Prenatal Exercise Classes
Some gyms and hospitals offer exercise classes especially designed for pregnant women. These classes aim to meet the physical needs of pregnant women by incorporating just the right balance of aerobic exercise, weight training and flexibility exercises such as Yoga.
Pregnant women who attend prenatal exercise classes also find that these classes help meet their need for friendship and social interactions with other women who are going through the same journey.
Best of all, the exercises you will engage in these types of fitness classes are modified to adapt to the new limitations of your body such as loss of balance, shifting center of gravity, increased joint looseness, and reduced stamina.
Drink Lots of Water
Pregnant or not, it is important to always drink a lot of water as you exercise in order to prevent dehydration, overheating and diet plateaus.
However, when you are pregnant it is even more important to stay properly hydrated because dehydration is the main cause of cramps, especially leg cramps. Dehydration can also lead to increased heart rate and increased blood pressure.
But most troubling is the fact that pregnancy places a great deal of stress on your kidneys. The stress of pregnancy, coupled with the stress of dehydration can be detrimental to the health of your kidneys as well as that of your baby.
Regular stretching is one of the most effective ways to manage the aches and pains that are a normal part of being pregnant. Regular stretching accomplishes this feat by combating muscle tightness, especially tightness in the thighs which can throw off your posture and lead to lower back pain and pain in the pelvic joints.
However, be careful not to stretch too far. This is because pregnancy hormones cause your joints, especially your pelvic joints, to be looser than usual. Therefore, it is very easy for pregnant women to dislocate vital joints through improper stretching.
The most effective ways to properly stretch your muscles, through low-impact methods designed for the pregnant body, is to join a prenatal Yoga class.
Embrace Low Impact Workouts
Low impact workouts such as walking, swimming, water aerobics, Yoga, and Tai Chi are ideal exercises for pregnant women. These exercises are easy on the joints and can help you maintain your flexibility, balance, core strength and muscle mass throughout your pregnancy.
Best of all, such low impact workouts can help elevate your mood and minimize your weight gain during pregnancy without putting a great deal of added strain on your heart.
Continue Lifting Weights
If your doctors clears you to exercise during pregnancy, there is no reason for you to stop your weight training routine. Weight training is a very healthy activity for women as it helps build bone density, speed up the metabolism and improve overall balance, which are all health benefits pregnant women need.
However, you do need to modify your weight training routine when you are pregnant. For example, during pregnancy many women prefer weight training machines to free weights since machines offer more support and require less balance to use.
But, most importantly, you need to change the focus of your weight training routine from muscle building to muscle maintenance which can be achieved using lighter weights.
Embrace Exercise Balls
An exercise ball can be a pregnant woman’s best friend. Many floor exercises can be safely modified to soothe the needs of a pregnant woman using a stability ball. Pregnant women can also use stability balls to maintain their stability, balance and core strength.
But, most importantly, pregnant women can use exercise balls to stretch their lower backs and hence help alleviate lower back pain.
Monitor Your Heart Rate
Pregnancy is not the time to start running a marathon if you have never trained for a marathon before or start cross training if you have never lifted anything heavier than a can of soup.
On the other hand, if you are an active person, one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself and your baby is to stay active throughout your pregnancy.
However, since pregnancy places a great deal of strain on your heart it is important to closely monitor your heart rate as you workout. Your doctor can help you come up with the right heart rate, after she determines whether or not you are fit enough to exercise during your pregnancy.