Finding out you’re pregnant is one of the most exciting things you’ll ever experience. But for fitness enthusiasts, it begs the question: can you exercise while pregnant? What kind of exercises are good for pregnant women, and which should you avoid? How should your exercise routine change over the course of your pregnancy?
The good news is that yes, pregnant women can and should exercise. However, if you’re serious about your fitness routine, you may need to adjust it a bit as your pregnancy progresses. Contrary to popular belief, pregnancy doesn’t mean you need to avoid any and all physical activity, especially in the first and second trimesters. You can continue to stay healthy and fit throughout your pregnancy.
The Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy
Exercising during your pregnancy is actually quite beneficial, and there’s no reason to put your fitness routine on hold because you’re expecting. Some of the benefits include:
- Decreased risk of gestational diabetes
- Control of gestational diabetes if you do develop it
- Decreased risk of long-term obesity
- Decreased risk of excessive weight gain during pregnancy
- Better energy levels
- Improved mood
- Improved posture and reduced back strain
- In some cases, a faster delivery is possible
- Easier recovery after childbirth
- Fewer backaches
- Less bloating and swelling
Are There Any Exercises I Should Avoid?
While exercise is definitely a good thing during pregnancy, some times of exercises aren’t really ideal for pregnant women. Cardio routines like running, walking on a steep incline treadmill, jogging, or using a stationary bike are absolutely fine during your pregnancy. So are yoga, pilates, and other body weight and stretching exercises. You can even continue with weight training, as long as you don’t overdo it or push yourself too hard.
Things you might want to avoid include martial arts, or starting a new exercise regimen that you’re not familiar with. That krav maga class you’ve been wanting to try will probably need to wait until after you’ve delivered your new baby.
How Much is Too Much?
There is such a thing as too much exercise while you’re pregnant. This is quantifiable not in duration, but in intensity. There are red flag symptoms that can indicate that you’re pushing you workout too hard, including (but not necessarily limited to):
- Muscle weakness
- Shortness of breath before starting your workout
- Pain or swelling in your calves
- Vaginal bleeding
- Premature labor
- Decreased movement from your fetus
- Chest pain
- Leaking amniotic fluid
Now, if you have been in training since long before your pregnancy, or you’re a serious athlete, you can probably continue your regimen, though you should probably talk to your doctor first. But pregnancy isn’t the idea time to start working out for the first time ever, or to start experimenting with higher-intensity workouts.
A good rule of thumb is that if you feel uncomfortable, stop.
Exercise During Pregnancy is Good In Moderation
For the most part, exercising during pregnancy is great for your energy, stamina, and for mitigating pregnancy side effects like back pain and bloating. But it’s also important to avoid overdoing it.