Tips for Exercising While Pregnant
Is it okay to exercise when you are pregnant? If you work out, will it be good for you and your baby?
“Exercise during pregnancy can help prevent excess weight gain during and after pregnancy,” says Lindsey Wismer, a nurse practitioner and certified personal trainer at Merritt Health and Wellness in southeast Portland.
And there are more benefits besides controlling your weight. If you exercise while you are pregnant, you may also:
- Increase your energy
- Keep a positive attitude
- Lower your risk of gestational diabetes (having high blood sugar levels while pregnant)
- Feel strong during labor
So how do you know which sports you can try when you’re pregnant? If you’ve been running, can you keep running? Or do you need to switch to something with less impact, like walking?
“If you have a regular exercise routine during pregnancy, keep doing it,” says Wismer, who works with many pregnant clients. “If you want to start exercising, do so slowly.”
If you’re just starting to think about getting pregnant, Wismer suggests waiting and spending the next five or six months developing healthy habits around eating, sleeping, and exercising.
Most exercise can be helpful.
“It’s good to simply move your body,” says Wismer. “But if you want optimum outcomes before, during, and after pregnancy, I would recommend strength training three to four times a week plus some light cardio, such as jogging, walking, or cycling. You can supplement this with yoga or Pilates.”
To get started with strength work, Wismer suggests focusing on simple exercises you can do without weights, such as:
- Bridge lifts
If you have weights, you can do moves like dumbbell curls and triceps extensions. If you don’t have weights, you can fill a water bottle or use canned veggies.
Want more exercise ideas? Build your own workout on sites such as Fitness Blender or rent a pregnancy (also called pre-natal) fitness DVD from the library.
Remember: It’s always a good idea to talk with your doctor about your exercise plan. If you have never done strength training, get advice from a physical therapist or certified trainer before you start. It’s especially important to check with your doctor if you have a pre-existing condition such as lung problems, a history of preeclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy), high blood pressure, or a thinning cervix. And if you experience an increase in headaches, vaginal bleeding or any leakage of fluid, talk to your doctor right away.