Exercise during Pregnancy
While everyone is aware of the benefits of exercising during pregnancy, pregnant women and new mums should also take care when keeping fit.
Exercise during and after pregnancy can be healthy, safe and beneficial if it is done sensibly and in moderation. However, before starting any kind of training or exercise program, consult your doctor and continue to do so on a regular basis during the pregnancy. There are several things pregnant women and new mums should be aware of before commencing an exercise program. Following is an outline.
1. Avoid overheating - especially in the first trimester, when the most important growth, cell reproduction and formation is occurring in the fetus.
- Avoid prolonged exercise. Limit strenuous aerobic exercise to 15 minutes or less.
- Stay well hydrated.
- Avoid outdoor exercise on hot, humid days.
- Wear light, loose-fitting clothing.
- Avoid saunas and steam rooms at all times during pregnancy.
- Avoid solariums when pregnant.
2. Avoid high-intensity exercise - do low-impact exercise. Avoid jogging, and try swimming or cycling instead.
- Learn how to measure your heart rate and check it regularly during exercise. A guideline for this is to keep your heart rate below 140 beats per minute.
- Make sure you allow for a long, cool-down period by reducing the intensity of your work-out at the end.
3. Limit the time on your back while exercising - this is important from the second trimester onwards, as exercising while on your back reduces the blood flow to the heart as well as the placenta.
- Limit the amount of time on the back to three minutes.
4. Stretch joints gently
- A hormone called relaxin is increased in the body during pregnancy, causing increased joint laxity, therefore increasing the risk of over stretching injuries.
5. Resistance training
- This should be limited to low weight, medium intensity work.
- Avoid heavier weights as they have been shown to increase the heart rate over 140 beats per minute, and can also elevate blood pressure.
6. Stop exercising if you experience any of the following:
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
- Blurred vision