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Keys of Safe Pregnancy Exercise

woman-on-ball-200wExercise Safely

Exercising during pregnancy has wonderful benefits – exercise can help keep you healthy and in shape for labor and childbirth while lifting your spirits. Regular exercise can decrease some of the discomforts of pregnancy such as backaches and fatigue. If you were physically active before pregnancy, you should be able to continue your activities in moderation. It is important not to exercise at your former level. If you haven't been exercising before conceiving, you can safely begin after consulting with your midwife or health care provider.

Whether you're a regular exerciser looking to continue during pregnancy or a former couch potato looking to get moving, here are keys to keeping you and baby safe:

  1. Check with Midwife or Health Professional First  Talk with them about your planned fitness routine to make sure your planned activities don't put you or baby at risk. 
  2. Avoid Dangerous Sports  Skip participating in contact or racquet sports, as well as activities where you could fall such as downhill skiing, water skiing, rollerblading, horseback-riding or mountain biking. Also avoid any activity where you could be hit in the stomach.
  3. Take in Extra Calories  Exercise burns calories. You are now eating for two. Discuss your exercise program with your health professional so you know how many extra calories you should consume on a workout day. This will also help keep your weight gain on track.
  4. Drink Plenty of Water  Drink water before, during, and after exercising to avoid becoming dehydrated, which can cause contractions and raise your body temperature, sometimes to levels that could be dangerous to you or the baby.
  5. Wear Appropriate Clothes  Wear loose-fitting, breathable clothing. Dress in layers so it is easy to peel off a layer as you warm up. Wear a sports bra with good support. Good athletic shoes are also important, they need to fit if your feet swell. 
  6. Warm Up   Warm-ups prepare your muscles and joints for exercise and help build your heart rate up slowly. Warming up before exercise helps avoid injury.
  7. Don't Lie Flat on Your Back  After the first trimester avoid lying flat on your back. This position puts pressure on a major vein called the vena cava, which will reduce blood flow to your heart and may diminish blood flow to your brain and uterus.
  8. Keep Moving  Standing in one place for a prolonged period can decrease blood flow. Keep moving by switching positions or walking in place.
  9. Don't Overdo It  Don't exercise until you are exhausted. Listen to your body. If something hurts, it means that something is wrong so stop. Exercise like you are working your body, not punishing it.
  10. Don't Get Overheated  Avoid letting yourself get too hot, especially during the first trimester when your babies major organs are developing. The increased blood flow and and higher metabolic rate that happen when you're pregnant mean you'll feel warmer than usual. Pay attention if you're sweating a lot or feeling uncomfortably warm, nauseated, dizzy or short of breath. To cool off quickly remove clothing or get to a cooler area. Hydrating is key too, remember to drink lots of water.
  11. Get Up From Floor Slowly  As your belly grows, your center of gravity shifts. Getting up too quickly can make you dizzy or cause you to loose your balance.
  12. Cool Down  Make sure to incorporate a cool down period of 5 -10 minutes at the end of your workout. This will allow your heart rate to get back to normal and help prevent sore muscles.
  13. Make It a Habit  Make a commitment to work regular exercise into your schedule. Keeping up a consistent routine is easier on your body than long periods no exercise interrupted by spurts of activity.