I would like to know what types of exercises I can do during my pregnancy. I am two months pregnant and have always worked out a lot. Is running completely off-limits? Which exercises should I be wary of, and which are acceptable?
I am so glad you are asking this question! In the past, pregnant women were seen as "delicate flowers" and exercise was considered too dangerous, but now we have research on the health benefits of exercise, and many forms of exercise are not only not off limits—they are recommended for healthy moms-to-be. Of course if you have medical problems, be sure to talk to your doctor or midwife before starting any exercise program.
In general, the principles of safe exercise in pregnancy include:
- Stay cool. Dress in layers and work out in a cool environment so you can prevent overheating
- Hydrate. Your blood has more places to go during pregnancy. In addition to reaching your muscles and your brain, it needs to feed the placenta and your growing baby. When you get dehydrated, your blood volume drops, and during exercise as the blood flows to your muscles, you can get lightheaded (less blood to your brain) or have less blood flowing to the placenta. Be sure to listen to your body and drink when you are thirsty.
- Everything in moderation. While working out, keep yourself in a good zone. You can train during pregnancy, but don't push past the point of being able to talk.
- Watch your tummy! Choose activities in which you aren't likely to fall and land on your abdomen. Keep in mind, too, that your balance may be off as your center of gravity moves forward towards late pregnancy.
- Avoid laying flat. Lying on your back can potentially cut off blood flow to the placenta and Baby. It may be better to choose activities that allow you to be upright, rather than on your back for long periods of time. The general guideline is after 20 weeks of pregnancy no more than five to 10 minutes flat on your back.
Pregnant moms can really do any exercise that follows these principles. Walking, running, swimming, elliptical, spinning, yoga (in a cool environment), tai chi, and many other activities are good choices. The biggest and most important guideline? Do what feels good, and listen to your body!