Exercising During Pregnancy

If you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, and you'd like to stay healthy throughout your pregnancy, you may want to keep up your usual exercise routine. But should you? 
 
The easy answer is, of course, yes. Studies have shown that healthy pregnant women need at least 2.5 hours of aerobic activity every week. That activity can include walking, running or swimming. It has also been established that regular physical activity helps to reduce the risk of pregnancy complications and it can also help to ease many discomforts that often come with pregnancy, like back pain. Of course, not all types of exercise are safe for pregnancy. For instance, among the activities that should be avoided during pregnancy because they are unsafe include basketball, downhill skiing, horseback riding, hot yoga and scuba diving.
 
What Types of Exercise Are Safe During Pregnancy?
 
If you are inclined to want to exercise during your pregnancy, you should discuss the possibilities with your doctor during your first prenatal care checkup. If you have your doctor's approval, exercising during your pregnancy is safe for both you and your baby. At that first checkup, ask your healthcare provider about the types of activities you would like to engage in, and they can tell you which types of activities are safe for you to do. If you are diagnosed with certain types of health conditions or pregnancy complications, exercise during pregnancy may, in fact, be a bad idea.
 
Under most circumstances, if your pregnancy is otherwise healthy, engaging in exercise doesn’t increase your risk of miscarriage, a premature birth or a low birth weight baby.  
 
How Much Exercise Do You Need During Pregnancy?
 
As noted, healthy pregnant women should get at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic/cardio activity each week. Aerobic activity involves repeatedly moving large muscles, like your arms and legs and such activity makes you breathe faster and more deeply, as it also makes your heart beat a little faster. Moderate-intensity aerobic activity means you’re active enough to sweat and increase your heart rate, like what happens during a brisk walk. 
 
Be careful, though. If you are unable to talk normally during an activity, you may be exerting yourself too much. You can exercise, but there is such a thing as too much exercise. Also, don't try to do all 2.5 hours at once; you'd best break it up throughout the week, like doing a half hour 5-6 times per week. 
 
Why is Exercise During Pregnancy Good for You?
 
For a healthy pregnant woman, getting regular exercise has a number of important benefits. By keeping your body healthy, you keep your mind sharp. Exercise also can help you feel positive and give you extra energy. Aerobic exercise also makes your lungs and your entire circulatory system more fit. Exercise can also limit your weight gain during pregnancy, which is a concern many women and their doctors have. 
 
Getting regular exercise can also stave off many of the most common discomforts that pregnant women experience. These can include back pain, swelling in your legs ankles and feet and constipation. Regular exercise can also help pregnant women feel less stressed, with far less strain, pressure and worry than other pregnant women who don't exercise. Regular exercise also reduces the risk pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. Gestational diabetes is a condition in which your body has too much sugar (called glucose) in the blood. Preeclampsia is a kind of high blood pressure some women get after the 20th week of pregnancy or after giving birth. Either of these conditions can increase your risk of experiencing complications during pregnancy, like premature birth.
 
Of course, not everyone should exercise a lot during pregnancy, which is why any such regimen should be cleared by your doctor. There are a number of conditions that make exercise and other physical activity unsafe during pregnancy, including preterm labor, which is labor that happens before 37 weeks, or if vaginal bleeding is present, or your water breaks.  Exercise may also be unwise for women carrying multiples, like twins or triplets. This is why you should ask your doctor; they may see a great reason to avoid high-impact exercises and physical activities, but they may see nothing wrong with low-impact exercise, like walking or swimming or prenatal yoga. 
 
Overall, it makes no sense to be afraid of exercising during pregnancy, especially since exercise can reduce a lot of the risks and complications during your pregnancy, it also reduces your risk of having a cesarean section. It can also help get your body ready for labor and birth. In addition to brisk walks, such activities as prenatal yoga and Pilates can help a pregnant woman practice breathing, while meditation and other methods for remaining calm can also help you preserve energy and manage labor pain. 
 

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