MYTH: Pregnant Women Shouldn’t Exercise

Wondering whether it’s okay to exercise when you’re pregnant? Well, a lot of the information out there is outdated or just not true. So let’s clear up some of those myths once and for all!

The Truth: You can certainly exercise when you’re pregnant, if you take a few precautions.

When it comes to exercising while pregnant, most women have a lot of questions that they can’t find the answers to! Hopefully I can help. Of course, please consult with your physician and make sure he or she clears you to exercise, but in general, here are the following adjustments I recommend you make to your fitness routine:

You can continue to work out when you’re pregnant. If you did yoga, spinning, boot camp, running — you can keep up with those activities. The placenta protects the baby, so you can continue your regular exercise regimen. Your body is more than capable. With that being said, now is definitely NOT the time to join a bootcamp or take up diving. Stick with what your body is used to doing.

You need to pay attention to your heart rate and body temperature. Measuring heart rate during pregnancy can be a bit tricky as a person who was more fit before pregnancy can work a bit harder than the woman who might not have been. The trick is to stick to the “talk test”: As long as you can still talk and breathe comfortably, you’re in the clear. If you’re coughing, gasping, and uncomfortable, slow down. Be careful if you use overhead weights because that will raise your heart rate very quickly — since you’re driving the blood upward, it changes your blood pressure. When lifting weights, do fewer repetitions and take deep breaths. As far as body temperature is concerned, you want to avoid overheating. The fetus can’t cool itself by sweating the way you can, so you’ll need to take measures to keep cool for both of you. Proper hydration is key — try drinking 180ml of cold water every 15 to 20 minutes during exercise.

Be aware of how your body is changing and modify exercises for balance. The first 12 weeks of pregnancy, while a lot of things are going on hormonally, you’re not experiencing many structural changes to your body. In your second trimester, however, you’ll have to start adjusting to the way your body distribution is changing. This is when you need to start modifying certain exercises — stay upright, don’t perform traditional crunches. You should also avoid exercises done on your back or your stomach because they may decrease blood supply to vital organs and to the fetus. Instead, perform planks and work on your core by using your legs. By your third trimester, your range of motion may be impaired, so do what you can — don’t push yourself, and stop if you’re feeling too weak or tired.

The Bottom Line: You can continue to work out when you’re pregnant, but you need to be aware of your limitations and your shifting center of balance. Plus, you really need to pay attention to how you’re feeling — you shouldn’t feel out of breath or too hot. There may be days when you don’t have the energy or feel well enough to exercise…and that’s okay! Always check with your doctor and remember that the most important thing is to keep you and your baby healthy.

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