There’s a lot of women out there who preach that “there’s no difference between how a man should work out and how a woman should work out!” and I agree with them… to a certain extent. There are physiological differences between men and women due to body structure, muscle mass, and even body chemistry. Those differences increase even more when you’re pregnant! Whether you’re pregnant right now or planning to be in the future, this article will outline the health benefits, training precautions, exercise guidelines, and exercises to avoid for a healthy happy pregnancy.
A lot of research has been done to show the benefits of exercise for both Mom and baby! Exercise strengthens your heart to pump all that extra blood around and keep your body going strong. Exercise can also improve mood, help you sleep better, and strengthen your body for labor. Exercise is vital during pregnancy for many reasons, including managing and preventing symptoms, pacing your weight gain,and keeping baby as healthy as possible. A recent study out of the University of Montreal indicates that exercise during pregnancy may boost baby’s brain activity. Other studies have shown that it helps babies sleep through the night sooner, and become better eaters!
When exercising you want to make sure blood flow regulation, body temperature, and oxygen supply all stay in safe ranges. This can be done by taking a few precautions during training.
To make sure blood flow stays at a steady rate, avoid any exercises that require you to lay on your back. This position can affect blood flow to your uterus. You can use a heart rate monitor to keep track of this during your workouts.
To regulate your body temperature, make sure you’re not overexerting yourself and that you’re drinking enough water. I’ve doubled and maybe tripled the amount of water I used to drink since I became pregnant!
To keep an eye on your oxygen supply stay at a low to moderate intensity during cardio. You can use the talk test to determine your intensity, if you can’t hold a conversation while exercising then you need to scale it back a bit. The treadmill, elliptical, and stationary bike are all perfectly fine to complete cardio during pregnancy.
If you start to feel nausea, dizziness, or faint, stop immediately and scale back from that point forward. There is good news though! If you’re already exercising regularly before pregnancy then you can pretty much stick to your normal routine until the third trimester! After that, it’s recommended to start slowing down.
Stick to low impact exercises that avoid quick motions. Instead of plyometrics, aerobics, or kickboxing… think more along the lines of treadmill walking, stationary cycling, and even swimming!
You’ll be able to complete cardio exercises between 3 and 5 days a week at a moderate intensity for about 15 to 30 minutes. You’ll be able to resistance train 2-3 days per week at a light intensity with higher reps (between 12 and 15). Make sure you are getting in a good stretch either before or after your workout. Maintaining your flexibility will become more important as you go through pregnancy!
Exercises to Avoid:
After First Trimester
Any Exercises in the Prone Position (on stomach)
Any Exercises in the Supine Position (on back)
After Second Trimester
Twisting of Your Torso
After Third Trimester
Hip Abduction Machines
Hip Adduction Machines
Every pregnancy is unique and different. I just want yours to be a healthy and happy one! As stated above, if you were previously working out before becoming pregnant then this guide might apply differently to you.
*I am not a doctor and you should always consult your physician before participating in any kind of physical activity.