Before embarking on any kind of exercise program, check with your doctor first. This ensures that he or she is aware of the kinds of activities you intend to do and he or she can provide guidance and even make suggestions. That said, let’s go over some basic rules for fitness during pregnancy:
- DO drink lots of water to keep hydrated, and wear loose, comfortable clothing.
- DO walk, swim, and bike at a low- to moderate-intensity level for 30-minute sessions.
- DO skip back exercises, but remember that abdominal and back exercises are important. They help with postural changes and stability and keep your body strong after the baby’s born, when you’ll have a lot of lifting to do. Since doing crunches on your back is not safe, switch to standing pelvic tilts or lying on your side or on your hands and knees; concentrate on bringing your navel toward your spine. Also consider a prenatal yoga or Pilates class to help you with this.
- DON’T use heavy weights and bouncing or jerking movements — especially during the third trimester. Hormones during the third trimester make your body more malleable and weight lifting at this time can put too much stress on tendons, ligaments, and bones making you more susceptible to injury.
- DON’T do any exercises that require you to lie on your back, to avoid placing any undue stress on your spine, from about halfway through your pregnancy. I have heard many women gripe about the validity of this, but let’s just not do it. Better safe than sorry!
- DON’T allow your body temperature to go above 102 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to workout in air conditioned environments and keep yourself cool while training at all times. Generally, you should keep your heart rate under 140 beats per minute. However, for some women this may be too high and for others, too low. So, the easiest way to do this is what is called the “talk test.” Simply put, if you are too winded to carry on a conversation while exercising, then you are doing too much.
- DON’T play contact sports like basketball and any sport where you may be prone to lose your balance. Remember that your center of gravity is off while pregnant and we don’t want you and junior taking any kind of tumble!
- DON’T twist or compress your abdomen, torso or spine. So, no overhead presses or weighted squats. No crunches. No twisting yoga poses. There are plenty of good core exercises you can do without engaging in these types of movements. Check out the prenatal yoga class that I mentioned above.
- DON’T exercise more than three to five days a week. Your body needs rest, so be sure not to overdue it. And if you experience any of the following symptoms stop immediately: dizziness, faintness, headaches, shortness of breath, uterine contractions, vaginal bleeding or fluid leaking, heart palpitations.