Rules for Safe Exercise During Pregnancy

Submitted by Pregnancy and Baby Care team on April 25, 2012

Now that you are pregnant, you may feel that this is the best time for you to sit back and relax. You may want to eat all that you can without experiencing the compulsion to burn it off, as you are going to gain weight anyway. In fact, you may also just want to avoid any physical exercise, because of common pregnancy side effect like severe backaches, morning sickness and swollen ankles. However, if you consult your doctor, you will probably learn that you should not be inactive during pregnancy, unless you are experiencing serious complications.


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Doctors advise women to start working out during pregnancy, even if they have led a fairly sedentary lifestyle in the past. This is because exercising while you are pregnant can –

  • Build stamina
  • Control the amount of weight you gain
  • Improve posture and reduce backache
  • Increase energy and muscle strength
  • Prepare your body for childbirth and delivery
  • Prevent gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and depression  
  • Relieve stress

However, it is important that you only engage in those activities that have been recommended by your doctor. Every doctor may give you different advice, based on your levels of fitness and overall health.

Walking is often considered a safe exercise during pregnancy, which is why most women are advised to take a brisk walk each day. Some of the other exercises that are regarded as being safe during pregnancy include –

  • Rowing
  • Stationary cycling
  • Swimming

You can engage in a little bit of light strength training, if you always have been used to it. Make sure that you do not lift more than 3 to 5 pounds at any time. Some of the weight training exercises recommended are –

  • Bicep curls
  • Lateral shoulder raises
  • Shoulder presses
  • Reverse fly

Many women who are physically active and fit prefer light aerobic exercises during pregnancy. However, there is a slight risk of an injury during these exercises and therefore, you need to make sure that you only practice them in the presence of a certified aerobics instructor. You could try –

  • Squats
  • Standing crunches
  • Side lying leg lifts

In case you plan to practice yoga exercises for pregnant women, make sure that you get an approval from your doctor beforehand. Also speak to your yoga instructor about the breathing techniques you should follow when you are pregnant.

10 rules for safe exercise during pregnancy that should be followed to the tee.

  1. The first guideline for safe exercise during pregnancy is to workout in moderation. Do not push your body or overwork yourself in any way. Around 30 minutes of exercise is ideal during pregnancy.
  2. Ensure that your heartbeat does not exceed 140 beats per minute. This means that you should be able to speak normally even when you are exercising. If you happen to pant and puff, it means that you are exercising too hard and need to stop or slow down.
  3. Make it a point to stretch properly before and after your workout routine. This makes your muscles more flexible and reduces the risks of injuries.
  4. Stay hydrated at all times, especially when you are working out. Carry a small bottle with you and take small sips at regular intervals.
  5. Plan your regime in such a way that your body gets one a break after every 10 or 15 minutes. Remember, as your pregnancy progresses, your stamina may decrease
  6. Wear the right exercise clothing, especially socks and shoes when you work out. Choose fabrics that absorb the sweat from your body.
  7. Consume an additional number of calories to make up for the ones you burn when you exercise. However, make sure that these calories come from healthy sources, instead of junk food. Make sure that you eat something an hour or so before you start exercising.
  8. Find a partner like a friend, a colleague or a family member who can join you in your workout routine. This will make sure that you are supervised while working out and can get help if required.
  9. Listen to your body for any signs of discomfort when you exercise. It is imperative that you stop in case you experience dizziness, shortness of breath, pain in the chest, cramps, or abdominal pain while working out.
  10. Get your workout routine approved by your doctor and make sure that you go in for regular checkups once you start exercising.

In case you notice absence of fetal movement, pain, discharge or bleeding, stop following your exercise routine until you have been examined by a doctor.

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