Pregnancy: Exercises to do and avoid

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Exercise and Yoga positions
Exercise and yoga positions
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So you’re a hot mamma and you want to stay that way throughout your pregnancy. Exercise is a great way to maintain your health and fitness for you and your baby. Talking to your doctor to ensure your exercise routine is both safe and effective is an important part of the process but here are some general guidelines to get you started.

How much is enough?

Generally, all women should be performing moderate intensity exercise at least four times a week, for about 30 minutes. This should pump up your heart and breathing rate but shouldn’t be leaving you breathless. FYI, watching a Johnny Depp movie may leave you breathless but it still doesn’t count as exercise!

However, if you have pregnancy complications you may be advised to exercise less (and possibly cut down on Johnny’s films) so you should talk to your doctor about your particular circumstances.

Even if you didn’t exercise before you got pregnant, you can start now. Just talk to your doctor about what kind of routine will best ease you into exercise without causing distress.

Times, they are a-changin’

When you’re pregnant, you go through many, many changes. Your body is undergoing all sorts of transformations, the most obvious being its shape. As you start getting bigger, running and balancing gets a little tricky and can be very uncomfortable so don’t worry if you can’t do the exercises you are used to.

Another change that may make exercise more difficult is lower blood pressure – meaning you are a little light-headed. You will also want to stay away from jumping or quick, jerky movements in case you damage any important pelvic muscles that you will definitely need later.

Of course, the most important thing is not to cause any harm so you need to be extra careful you don’t stack it! It’s not only embarrassing but very dangerous. Also, remember that your heart rate increases during pregnancy, so be careful not to over-exert yourself.

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Let’s get physical: Types of exercises to do

OK, so when you’re pregnant you don’t exactly feel like Olivia Newton-John in the 80s but there are still many exercises you can get in to. Whichever you choose though, always remember to warm up first. Your raging hormones not only make you more sensitive to smell than a blood hound but you’re also more flexible than normal, meaning you may overstretch and hurt yourself.

Walking is definitely at the top of the list for pregnant women, especially if you weren’t exercising before you got pregnant. It gives the whole body a workout and is a great way to exercise at moderate intensity while working the heart. Rope in your partner or a friend for added fun.

Water exercises are great, like swimming or moderate aqua aerobics as they don’t put stress on the joints. They may also help with any leg or back pain pregnant women can experience.

Riding a bike in the earlier stages is okay, although there is always the risk of falling. When your belly grows, perhaps try an exercise bike so you don’t go hurtling over the handlebars.

Resistance training is great but only for women who were doing it before they were pregnant. So just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you have to give up that Pump class – just go easy on the weights you use – very heavy weights are not good for you! The same goes with jogging. You can still job, but you may need to lower the intensity.

Don’t go there Sista: Types of exercises to avoid

You’ll have to lay off any forms of more intense exercises. As a general rule, if you need to hold your breath while working out, it’s probably not a great pregnancy workout.

Stay away from exercises where you have to lie on your front or back because this can disturb blood flow to the foetus. You’ll probably want to stay away from exercises that stretch out your tummy, too.

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Big no-nos include contact sports, so you’ll have to give up Fight Club for a while, as well as horse-riding, rock climbing or anything involving plummeting several metres. It’s also not good to be exercising at high-altitudes because you can get very short of breath.

Obviously, scuba diving is out of the picture. Not only is there decompression sickness but you don’t want to compress your stomach with under water pressure. Your baby will start to wonder what’s ‘up’, and there isn’t a lot of room in there to start with.

Big Mamma’s House

As you can see, being ‘preggas’ doesn’t mean that you have to stop your exercise routine. In fact, it’s great for both you and your new arrival. Of course, there are limits. Moderate intensity exercise is recommended and also an easier habit to stick to.

All pregnancies are different so make sure you talk to your doctor before you start your exercise in case your particular situation requires less intensity or none at all. The first rule is safety.

More information

Pregnancy and exercise For more information about pregnancy and exercise, including pre-pregnancy exercise, suitable types of exercise, risks and benefits of exercise and exercise myths, see Pregnancy and Exercise.


Exercises to do and avoid during pregnancy For more information on body changes as well as appropriate physical activities during pregnancy, see Exercises To Do and Avoid During Pregnancy.
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Date Created: November 29, 2011 Date Modified: March 23, 2015