Sunday, May 18, 2008

Exercising During Pregnancy

I have had several people ask me questions about exercising during pregnancy, so I thought I'd post some info that might be beneficial. Make sure you check with your doctor first and foremost because, of course, every woman is different. But, these are some general guidelines that are pretty standard.
It is safe to exercise during pregnancy. It can help you maintain a healthy weight, can aid in avoiding discomfort, prevent pregnancy fatigue, help you sleep better, and can increase stamina and muscle strength making your labor easier. You want to be careful as to how far you are pushing yourself. If you haven't been exercising prior to your pregnancy it is safe to begin now. In fact, please do! Make sure you start slow. You want to avoid over exerting yourself. If you start slow an build up a little at a time you'll be able to progress at a safe and comfortable tempo. If you have been exercising previous to getting pregnant you should be able to maintain your level of exercise, but it is still important to watch how hard you are pushing yourself. Watching your RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) is the best way to determine this. RPE is a mental scale of how you're feeling while you're exercising based on how hard you are working. You want to keep yourself at a pace that is comfortable. Another way to tell is to give yourself the "talk test". You should be able to carry on a conversation while you're working out. If you aren't able to that means you're working to hard.
Make sure you warm up, take it slow, drink plenty of water, and don't let yourself get overheated and you should be just fine! Exercise is great, and will benefit you and your new little baby so much!
Many people believe that working out the abdomen is off limits during pregnancy, but this isn't true. You should avoid any exercises that require you to lie on your back after your first trimester, but there are exercises that you can do to strengthen your abs and core without lying down. Your core is the center of your body, where your strength stems from. This makes it even MORE important to work your core while you're pregnant. You should note that after month four your balance becomes affected, so you'll want to be careful not to put yourself in danger of falling.
If you were running prior to your pregnancy it is ok to continue to run during your pregnancy as long as you're healthy and having no complications. Again, make sure to keep a mental check on how you feel, and not to push yourself too hard. Walking, low-impact aerobics, swimming and cycling are also great forms of exercise. Cycling and swimming especially due to the fact that they take impact off your joints.