Tips for Exercising While Pregnant

Posted by Nicole on August 11

Weight gain is an inevitable and important part of pregnancy. But that does not mean that you need to go out of shape while you are pregnant. In fact, routine exercise can help you stay healthy and fit while you are carrying your baby and avoid putting on excess weight. It might also help you to strengthen key muscles that can help support your pregnancy weight and assist with labor.

But you may need to adjust some things about how you exercise while you are pregnant. This is necessary for your health and safety as well as that of your child. Below, we go over some tips that can help.

1. As always, warm up and cool down.

One thing that doesn’t change about exercising when you are pregnant is the need to warm up and cool down appropriately. In fact, both of these are more important than ever. So, do not launch right into intense exercise. Ease into it gradually, and ease out of it as well.

2. Avoid working out if it is too hot.

It is very important to be careful not to overheat when you are exercising while pregnant. Try and avoid working out in hot, humid conditions in particular. But dry heat can also be dangerous. This tip is especially important for your first trimester, but remains so throughout your pregnancy.

3. Stay away from exercises that put you at a heightened risk of injury.

There are some exercises that are not appropriate when you are pregnant. Anything that puts you at a greater risk for injury should be avoided. That means, for example, you should not go riding on horseback or skydiving. Do not ski or snowboard or do gymnastics. Contact sports are also a no-go, as are those that involve throwing around a ball.

Additionally, you should never scuba dive while you are pregnant, as decompression sickness and gas embolism are both risks for your baby. Avoid hot yoga as well, so you do not overheat.

4. Do not exercise if your doctor tells you not to.

Certain health conditions make exercising while pregnant unsafe. Some examples include heart disease, lung disease, severe anemia, and placenta previa. If you have such a condition or your doctor has warned you against exercising for your safety, then you should not do so.

5. Try to get 150 minutes of exercise a week if you can.

You might be wondering how much exercise you need while pregnant. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says, “Ideally, pregnant women should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. An aerobic activity is one in which you move large muscles of the body (like those in the legs and arms) in a rhythmic way. Moderate intensity means you are moving enough to raise your heart rate and start sweating.”

The college reminds you to make sure that your daily calorie intake takes into account how much exercise you are doing. If you increase your exercise, you may need to increase your calories as well.

Not everyone will be able to schedule or handle 150 minutes of weekly exercise. If you cannot, just do what you can manage.

6. As usual, get your electrolytes and water.

Just as warming up and cooling down remain important with your workouts, so does getting a proper amount of electrolytes and fluids. Hydrate yourself before and after you exercise.

7. Support your weight when jogging.

If you are out on a jog or run, you need to make sure you have adequate support. So, put on a quality sports bra, and consider also getting a belly support belt if you need one.

8. Do not lie on your back to exercise.

If you usually do a lot of workouts that involve lying on your back, you will need to replace them with different exercises.

ACOG explains, “Avoid standing still or lying flat on your back as much as possible. When you lie on your back, your uterus presses on a large vein that returns blood to the heart. Standing motionless can cause blood to pool in your legs and feet. These positions may cause your blood pressure to decrease for a short time.”

If your blood pressure drops abruptly, the result can be feelings of faintness, which brings us to our next safety tip.

9. Stand slowly after exercising on the floor.

If you do rise too quickly from the floor when exercising while you are pregnant, you risk getting dizzy. This can happen even if you were not lying down on your back.

If you get dizzy while standing up, it increases the chances that you might fall. In doing so, you could injure yourself and cause complications for your pregnancy.

So, always be cautious and stand up slowly. Give your body time to adjust so that you do not feel faint or dizzy.

10. If you experience any warning signs that something is wrong, stop right away.

There are certain signs and symptoms that you may have pushed yourself too far when you are working out while you are pregnant. If you spot any of these warning signs, you should immediately stop what you are doing.

Dizziness and faintness are a couple of warning signs to be on the lookout for. Being short of breath is another, especially if it happens before you actually start working out.

Pain in your chest, weak muscles, headache, vaginal bleeding, or other leakage of vaginal fluids are more warning signs.

If you feel pain in your calves or notice swelling, you should not exercise. If your uterus is contracting painfully with regularity, you also should not work out.

Should you experience any of these warning signs, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately.

Stay Safe While Staying Fit During Pregnancy

Now you know how you can stay safe while you are working out during pregnancy. So long as your healthcare provider says it is okay for you to exercise, doing so can help you to maintain your health during the nine months you carry your baby, and may even help with childbirth. Just make sure you are observing proper precautions and paying close attention to your body while you work out. If you sense anything may be amiss, stop what you are doing and call your doctor.