Maintaining a Healthy and Safe Exercise Routine During Pregnancy

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Exercising may seem like a challenge when you are pregnant. However, it doesn’t have to be. Exercise is extremely important during your pregnancy and following a healthy routine will allow you to feel comfortable while working out. Here is what you should keep in mind while participating in physical activity:

  1. Don’t hold your breath: If while working out you begin holding your breath or are breathing incorrectly, stop right away. Your blood pressure increases when you breathe incorrectly and this decreases blood flow to your baby. You should be able to hold a conversation during your entire workout, so don’t overdo it. Furthermore, expecting mothers should be aware of their limits and consult with their doctor before beginning any exercise routine. Unless you are advised not to participate in physical activity, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day.  
  2. Eat more calories: You will need to gain weight depending on how much you weigh prior to your pregnancy. If you contain a healthy body mass index (between 18.5 and 24.9), you will need to intake at least 300 more calories per day. Also, when you exercise you burn calories, some of which need to be replaced to maintain good health and energy levels.
  3. Hydrate: Drink a lot of fluids before, during and after your workout- dehydration can cause contractions and raise your body temp which can become dangerous for you and your baby. To ensure you are staying hydrated, drink one cup (8ounces) pre-workout, one cup for every 20 minutes of exercise, and a cup post-workout. More liquids are needed while exercising in hot weather.
  4. Do not participate in dangerous sports: This one is obvious but it’s worth calling out just in case anyone is planning to ski, play soccer, basketball, etc. You are more likely to fall during your pregnancy and your susceptibility to sprains or other injuries increases. This is due to the increased levels of the hormone relaxin, which not only relaxes the pelvic joints but loosens all joints and ligaments as well.
  5. Warm up: Warm up your muscles and slowly increase your heart rate. Skipping the warm-up can increase the chances of injury and post-workout aches.
  6. Don’t lie flat on your back: Especially after the first trimester, lying flat on your back puts pressure on the vena cava which is the major vein that supports blood flow to your heart, brain and uterus. When pressure is added to this vein, blood flow to these organs is reduced and consequently can cause shortness of breath, and/or make you feel dizzy or nauseated. To help prevent this problem, you can put a pillow under your right hip or buttock.
  7. Keep moving: Standing in one place or holding one position for a long period of time can cause blood to pool in your legs and decrease blood flow to the uterus, causing you to feel dizzy.
  8. Don’t get overheated: When your baby’s major organs are developing during the first trimester, be especially cautious not to let yourself get too hot. Reaching a core temperature above 102 degrees Fahrenheit for more than 10 minutes could potentially harm your baby. Also, you will already be feeling hotter when you’re pregnant due to the increased blood flow and higher metabolic rate. Therefore, be aware of how you feel while exercising. Every person is different, but if you are sweating a lot, feel very warm, short of breath, dizzy, or nauseated stop your activity immediately and seek a cooler environment. Find a fan, air conditioned room, or take a cool shower and remember to stay hydrated.
  9. Cool down: Take 5-10 minutes to do some stretching in order to prevent sore muscles and to allow your heart rate to return to its normal pace.
  10. Exercise regularly: It is easier to maintain a routine than it is to start and stop exercising irregularly.
Pregnancy Tips Prenatal Fitness

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