If you followed a regular exercise program prior to pregnancy, you should be able to maintain that program to some degree throughout. The key is to listen to your body, which undergoes many anatomical and physiological changes that can affect your level of physical activity. As your body shape changes, your centre of gravity moves forward and the curvature in your spine increases. These changes may add a little discomfort to your workouts (particularly in the last trimester). Your joints also loosen up to get ready for birth, creating an increased risk for injuries. Here are some things to keep in mind when exercising during pregnancy:
- Your body will naturally give you signals that it's time to reduce your level of exercise. Never exercise to the point of exhaustion or breathlessness–this is a sign that your body (and your baby) can't get the oxygen supply they need.
- Wear comfortable footwear with strong ankle and arch support.
- Take frequent breaks and drink plenty of fluids.
- Avoid exercise in extremely hot weather.
- Avoid rocky terrain or unstable ground when jogging. Contact sports and those with a potential for hard falls (such as horseback riding and skiing) should be avoided, while stationary cycling is recommend to reduce the risk of falls associated with regular cycling.
- Weight training should emphasize improving tone–so increase the repetitions and decrease the weight. Avoid lifting weights above your head and using weights that strain the lower back muscles.
- Due to the increase in your resting heart rate and decrease in maximal heart rate during pregnancy, don't use target heart rate to determine intensity of exercise.
- Great exercises for moms-to-be include: any form of swimming or water exercise, walking and yoga, which can help your body prepare for the birthing process.
Precautions: See your health care provider if you experience any of these symptoms during or after intense exercise: nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, vaginal bleeding, sudden swelling of hands, ankles or face, headache, high heart rate, amniotic fluid leaking, back or pelvic pain.
Some information provided by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Meet our expert:
Andrea Grace is the president and creator of Mommy and Baby Fitness, pre- and post-natal fitness programs with locations across North America. She is a CanFitPro and ACE certified fitness professional with 20 years of teaching experience and specialty certifications in pre-and post-natal and children's fitness. mommyandbabyfitness.com