Exercise the Heart in Pregnancy
Pregnancy brings out our strongest desire to stay healthy — for ourselves and for the baby growing inside. Yet, many women have questions about what exercise is safe and how much and for how long?
Exercise is good for the pregnant body. Even if you haven’t been an avid exerciser before the pregnancy it is safe to begin to move your body and begin an exercise regime after you become pregnant. You just need to start slowly and gradually increase the length and frequency and intensity of your exercise over several weeks. If you are already an athlete or actively exercise on a regular basis – then continuing to exercise at that same level is almost always a good thing. Talk to your midwife about any limitations that may apply to your specific situation.
Things to consider while you exercise:
- Stay hydrated – drink water before and after you exercise.
- Stay cool – exercise indoors or in the morning or evening and not in the heat of the day.
- Elevate your heart rate – but be able to maintain a conversation with someone during the exercise.
- Move your body for at least 30-60 min 5-6 times per week.
- Avoid any exercise where you might fall after the first trimester– waterskiing, mountain biking, downhill skiing, contact sports, etc.
- Listen to your body – if something doesn’t feel right or is causing discomfort or pain, stop.
- It is OK to do core exercises or strength training with weights in pregnancy. You just may need to modify the amounts of weight used and not do core work on your back.
- Exercise actually gives you energy.
- Exercise helps you sleep better.
- Exercise reduces stress by creating a physical outlet for it.
- Exercise helps you maintain healthy glucose levels.
- Exercise promotes strong muscles which facilitates a healthy labor and recovery after the birth.
- Exercise helps you to gain the right amount of weight for a healthy pregnancy.
- Yoga (not Bikram)
- Swimming, Water Aerobics
- Aerobics, Pilates, Spinning, Zumba
- Nordic skiing or snow shoeing
- Biking on paved bike trails or on a stationary bike
Marti Churchill, CNM, is a Fletcher Allen Health Care certified nurse midwife offering prenatal care at Champlain OB/GYN .