You’ve just found out that you’re pregnant and you’re keen to continue with your regular fitness regime—but you have some questions and concerns. Is it okay to exercise whilst pregnant? Are there exercises that I should or shouldn’t do?
Read on to discover the dos and don’ts of keeping fit whilst pregnant.
Should you exercise while pregnant?
The good news is that with uncomplicated pregnancies, women with both active and sedentary lifestyles should be encouraged to participate in aerobic and strength conditioning exercises to stay healthy.
In fact, the research is very clear—exercising whilst pregnant offers many benefits for both mum and baby. These benefits include:
- Lower risk of developing gestational diabetes
- Weight control
- Reduced postpartum depression
- Less water retention
- Larger placenta and more nutrients for your baby
- Decreased likelihood of varicose veins
- Less likely to require a caesarian delivery
- More rapid return to pre-pregnancy weight
- Leaner children up to 5 years after delivery
First, clear it with your doctor that it is safe for you to exercise.
Secondly, stick to what you’ve been doing. Pregnancy is not the time to try and improve your fitness levels but rather a time to maintain fitness. You shouldn’t work out more than what you did prior to pregnancy. If you are used to working out at a moderate to high intensity, then maintaining this will be quite safe for you.
If you have not been exercising prior to becoming pregnant it is okay to start as long as you listen to your body, and don’t over-exert. As a general guide, if you can still hold a conversation whilst working out, the intensity is not too high. In general, pregnant women have the same exercise guidelines as non-pregnant women – aim for 20-30 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week. Heart rate monitors are not recommended to gauge intensity during pregnancy.
Monitoring intensity is one of the most important considerations of exercising whilst pregnant, second to exercising in a cool environment.
Make sure to include a warm-up before you workout, and cool down afterwards. The warmup will give your body a chance to gradually adapt to the movement and exertion, ultimately making the exercise easier. It also gives your body a chance to deliver oxygen to your muscles and your baby.
Competitive sports, contact sports, activities with a high risk of falling, scuba diving and hot yoga or pilates should all be avoided during pregnancy.
Avoid lying on your back for long periods of time (especially in the third trimester) as the weight of your baby may put pressure on the vena cava which can impede blood flow. You may do some exercises on your back, but it’s a good idea to lie on an incline bench to perform these exercises. If you feel dizzy at all then refrain from the exercise.
Standing still for long periods of time is also best avoided. Also, make sure not to lift both legs off the floor at the same time (when lying on your back) during your third trimester.
Based in Dubai? Urban Energy Fitness offers 3 pre and postnatal specific classes every week, which are available on GuavaPass. Our instructors are pre and postnatal certified so they can help you work out safely during and after your pregnancy. Join us every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Get access to a range of prenatal classes with GuavaPass! Sign up here now.
Fitness & Nutrition Specialist, Urban Energy Fitness