Should you exercise when pregnant? The answer is a resounding yes. But, do be careful and consult with your gynaecologist. Read on.
What exercises should I do when I am pregnant?
The first thing you need to consider is whether you were already exercising before your pregnancy. If the answer to this is yes, you should be able to continue with your earlier working, with a few moderations. If you do abdominal crunches regularly, stop after your first trimester. Similarly, avoid doing exercises that require you to lie on your back, during the second and third trimester. This restricts blood circulation, and even strains your back.
Can I swim?
Swimming is possibly one of the best exercises, and if you have access to a pool this is something you should certainly consider. Swimming strengthens almost all muscles without putting undue strain on your body. You need to focus on strengthening back muscles during your pregnancy, and swimming can do this.
Are weights safe?
You need to be especially careful when doing weights during pregnancy. If you haven't done weights until now, your pregnancy is not a good time to start weights - at least, not suddenly. You could start weights slowly, under the guidance of an expert. Remember though that not every gym instructor is an expert, and some may give you the wrong advice. If you have an instructor that is very good, has received the appropriate training, is certified, and has worked with pregnant women before, you may be in safe hands.
How helpful is walking?
In addition to swimming, walking and spot cycling are the safest exercises you can do. If you haven't exercised before, start by walking three times a week for around half an hour. Gradually increase the speed, and then, the timing. After you have been walking regularly for around a month you consider starting cycling.
Don't walk for too long. If you feel dizzy or light-headed, stop immediately, and if you suddenly start spotting or bleeding, contact your doctor at once. Your heart beat must not increase very much, and your body temperature should not cross 102 degrees F, as this may cause problems to the developing foetus. So you should try to exercise in the evenings or early morning, when it is coolest. Exercise in cool climes as far as possible, and wear cool cottons. Avoid exercising outdoors when it is hot. On hot days, swimming is perhaps your best bet.
What should I avoid?
Saunas and steam baths also increase your body temperature, and are a no-no.
Avoid all exercises that involve jumping, leaping or a sudden change of direction. Raquet sports such as squash or tennis are not a very good idea. Similarly, badminton does not require as much force, but you are required to run around a lot. If you have been playing these sports, it may be safe for you to continue with them in the initial stages of pregnancy. Do speak to your doctor first.
What about Kegel exercises?
If you haven't already being doing them, now is the time to start. Doing Kegel exercises regularly help reduce the risk of developing bladder incontinence after pregnancy. To find out how you can do Kegel exercises, click here. Don't do these exercises when actually urinating.