Exercise During Pregnancy

Exercise During Pregnancy

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    AMarch of Dimes answered

    Don't do exercises, like riding a bike, that could make you lose your balance. You don't want to fall and hurt yourself or your baby. Don't do activities that have potential for serious injury. These include horseback riding, scuba diving, downhill skiing or a sport in which you could get hit in the stomach. Stay out of saunas, hot tubs and steam rooms, and don't do things that could make you overheated. After your first trimester, keep from doing activities that make you lie flat on your back.

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    ASadie Lincoln, Fitness, answered on behalf of barre3

    There are so many great exercise options that you can do at home while you are pregnant.  Leg and glute strengthening exercises will keep you strong for better balance and a healthier back.  Arm exercises will help strengthen your shoulders, biceps and triceps for more ease in carrying your baby once he or she is born. 

    In my studios, I encourage pregnant clients to listen to their bodies and honor what is right for them.  While energy levels may drop, especially during your first trimester, many women continue to exercise to the extent they did prior to pregnancy, incorporating modifications as needed.  We have even developed several online workouts specifically for our prenatal clients, so that they are able to get a safe yet challenging workout at home.

    It is important to note that certain postures, such as deep twists, active flexion (crunches), inversions and stomach lying are good to avoid during pregnancy.  You may also notice increased flexibility.  While stretching is important, try to avoid over stretching to prevent instability after your pregnancy. Talk to your doctor for more information on this and to find out if there are any specific guidelines you should follow.
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    APaula Greer, Midwifery Nursing, answered

    If you have no medical complications of pregnancy and have been cleared for appropriate pregnancy exercise there are 3 main ways you can monitor your level of exertion or intensity while exercising.

    1. You can monitor your pulse. Remember your heart is working harder while you are pregnant so its already getting a partial workout. Change your target heart rate to know more than 50 percent unlike what you learned for aerobic exercise and a 85 percent target rate.
    2. You can monitor your rate of perceived exertion. If you have been quite athletic and can perform the exercise without difficulty fine but never exercise to the point of pain or breathlessness. The activity should be able to be performed with no serious exertion.
    3. The last method is the talk test. Can you talk while exercising. This is a good indicator that you are getting enough oxygen for you and your baby.

    I encourage my patients to never exercise to the point of pain or breathlessness and to keep their heart rate at an acceptable level. I warn them to stay hydrated and not to overheat themselves or the baby and to be able to give the baby plenty of oxygen while they are exercising.

    Before starting any exercise program you should discuss with your health care provider.

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    ATeresa Goepfert, Obstetrics & Gynecology, answered on behalf of Swedish

    Here are some exercise tips if you are pregnant:

    • Take part in regular exercise (at least three times per week). It is preferable to do intermittent activity.
    • Start and finish your exercise session gradually (warm up and cool down).
    • Exercise at a moderate pace.  A general rule of thumb is that you can exercise to the level you did previous to pregnancy and, if you didn’t exercise at all, then you will need to start at a lower level. Exercising for at least 30 minutes at a moderate pace will give you an aerobic benefit.
    • Keep your fluid level up by drinking before you are thirsty.
    • Do not hold your breath.
    • Be gentle with stretching.
    • After the first trimester, avoid any exercise where you lie on your back for more than a minute or two (primarily this is an issue with abdominal exercises).
    • Wear loose, comfortable clothing and a supportive bra.
    • Wear shoes with good support and cushioning.
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    ADawn Marcus, Neurology, answered
    A large survey of women collected through the Danish National Birth Cohort showed that swimming in a pool is safe during pregnancy. The women who swam during pregnancy actually had slightly lower risks of experiencing preterm labor or having a baby with a birth defect, compared to those who didn't exercise. Another study conducted with this same group of women found that women who were less health conscious, smoked, or considered their health to be normal or less than normal were less likely to exercise during pregnancy, so some of the benefits seen with swimming may be attributed to the fact that healthier women are more likely to exercise. On the other hand, this study does support that swimming is safe during pregnancy.
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    ADawn Marcus, Neurology, answered
    Aerobic exercise during pregnancy can be good for you and your baby. Women who exercise during pregnancy are less likely to develop preeclampsia and pregnancy-related diabetes. Aerobic exercise often needs to be modified during pregnancy:
    • Most women can continue to exercise throughout pregnancy, although adjustments may be needed.
    • Talk to your doctor before starting a new aerobic exercise program.
    • Reduce high-impact exercise. Consider walking, low-impact or water aerobics, swimming, or riding a stationary bike.
    • Avoid activities that might put you at risk for falling or trauma, including contact sports, soccer, basketball, gymnastics, skiing, horseback riding, and tennis or racquetball. Also avoid scuba diving.
    • Limit exercises done while lying flat on your back.
    • Stop exercising and contact your doctor right away if you have severe abdominal pain, problems with breathing, dizziness, or blurred vision, or vaginal fluid drainage during or after exercise.
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    AMehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology, answered
    To improve your night's sleep during pregnancy, the best strategy is to exercise four to five hours before you go to bed. Exercise raises your body temperature above normal, and as your body temperature starts to fall a few hours later, that triggers your body to get ready for sleep.

    The best kind of exercise for a good night's sleep is a cardiovascular workout. You shouldn't start a brand-new exercise program when you're pregnant, but it's okay to raise your heart rate through walking, swimming, an elliptical machine or low-impact aerobics. Let your body be your guide, but don't be afraid to work up a sweat. Be careful not to overheat, especially in your first trimester. Try to keep your heart rate elevated for at least 20 minutes, and do this three or four times a week. If you haven't exercised in years, talk to your doctor before beginning. Start slowly, and gradually increase your workout time and intensity if it feels good.
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    AKim McCulloch, MD, Obstetrics & Gynecology, answered on behalf of Intermountain Healthcare
    A pregnant woman should stop exercising if she is short of breath, lightheaded, dizzy, in pain of any sort, feeling any contractions or having any bleeding. That should definitely be a signal to back off the exercise.
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    AKim McCulloch, MD, Obstetrics & Gynecology, answered on behalf of Intermountain Healthcare
    Exercise during pregnancy is a very important part of the health of the pregnancy, especially for women who have been exercising prior to pregnancy. Most women who have been exercising prior to pregnancy can continue their exercise plan as it was. I've even had patients who've run marathons during their early pregnancy, because they're that fit. Certainly, the exercise tolerance decreases for a lot of women, so they have to back off their exercise.

    There is not a specific amount or duration of exercise that women need to maintain. For women that are just starting an exercise program, I think that walking, swimming or low-impact aerobics are helpful, but it does need to be gradually obtained.

    Endurance needs to be gradually obtained through the course of a pregnancy, and women should expect that their exercise tolerance will decrease, but it can definitely be worked back up during the second trimester. Most women have good energy levels and can continue to exercise at whatever amount they're comfortable with.
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    ARick Olderman, Physical Therapy, answered
    Pregnancy not only stretches the abdominal muscles but can also make it difficult to regain their strength due to the pelvis stuck in an anterior pelvic tilt (when the top of the pelvis tilts forward) or separation of the linea alba (tendinous line down the center of the abdominal muscles that divides them into left and right halves).

    Having one or both of these conditions means you must be extra vigilant about what you are doing in terms of exercise and daily activities. Therefore, it would help if you began abdominal strengthening exercises early in your pregnancy to gain a sense of how your muscles should perform and keep them as toned as possible throughout your pregnancy.
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