Keeping fit and maintaining an active lifestyle throughout your pregnancy can help you stay healthy and feeling well. Studies have shown that frequent exercise throughout your pregnancy can decrease some common unpleasant symptoms such as backaches and fatigue as well as help improve posture. Exercises throughout pregnancy have also been shown to help relieve stress, prevent gestational diabetes and build stamina for labor and delivery.
That being said, many active women are surprised to learn how pregnancy can affect their workouts. Fatigue and nausea are two of the most common factors which can make it difficult to keep up with your workout routine. It is important to remember to not try and push yourself to your former fitness level and that you need to adapt your workout routine to do what is most comfortable for you. In general, low impact activities such as swimming and walking are recommended.
Before you begin a new pregnancy workout routine or plan to continue your existing one, make sure to follow these important steps first.
Consult with Your Doctor
There are certain cases and conditions where exercising during pregnancy is off-limits. However, in most cases, it is perfectly fine in moderation. To be sure, always consult with your doctor about continuing your workout routine or if you were a former couch potato looking to become active, get the green light for what type of activity is suitable for beginners.
Avoid Dangerous Sports
When you are pregnant activities such as horseback riding, surfing, downhill skiing, water rafting and others which may impact your balance or place you at risk for a fall should be avoided. Contact sports such as soccer, hockey and basketball are also not recommended. Even in early pregnancy, scuba diving is an absolute no-no as the womb cannot protect babies from the effects of pressure changes.
Becoming dehydrated while pregnant can lead to a reduced amount of blood reaching the placenta, increase your risk of overheating and even potentially trigger contractions. Especially when exercising, make sure to drink water before, during and after your workout. While there is not an official recommendation for how much water a pregnant woman needs to drink while exercising, having one or two glasses each hour is a good starting point.
Avoid Heat and Humidity
When you are pregnant, you tend to be warmer than usual as a result of increased blood flow and a higher metabolic rate. Exercising will make you feel even warmer, quicker which can result in becoming overheated much faster than you would under normal circumstances. It is important to avoid exercising when it is hot or humid outside as your body will have a difficult time regulating its temperature.
If you are exercising and feel like you are becoming overheated, stop your activity and remove any layers to cool off. Try to change your environment such as stepping into an air-conditioned room or taking a cool shower. Activities such as Bikram yoga, hot pilates and using saunas should be avoided.
Warm Up and Cool Down
With pregnancy comes a variety of sore, aching muscles and joint pain. Don’t add to the problem and always take the time to warm up and cool down before your workout. For a warm-up, start off slow, such as walking and allow your muscles to loosen and prepare for at least 5 minutes. When your workout is completed, perform some light stretches or walk in place for the last 5 minutes to cool down.
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