If you enjoy working out, you won't want to stop just because you're pregnant. When I learned I was expecting my first child, I was ready to maintain my current workouts without slowing down. I was determined not to get stretch marks or gain too much weight and figured that if I continued my exercise routine throughout pregnancy, I wouldn't have much work to do after the baby was born. That was a bit too optimistic.
Why You Should Exercise
Working out during pregnancy allows you to maintain a good level of health and fitness, which can help you during pregnancy and beyond. Realistic goals are important—now is not the time for losing pounds or inches, nor is it the time to try new things. If you've been exercising for a while, you should be able to continue with your doctor's consent. If you don't normally exercise, it's important to keep your workouts basic.
"The big thing I tell women is that pregnancy is not the time to all of a sudden begin an exercise program," says Dr. Robert Atlas, MD, of Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland. "If they enter pregnancy with a program that is fine, however to enter not doing anything and think this is the time to do heavy exercises is wrong."
Depending on your current level of fitness, your prenatal workouts will vary. If you are a runner, you can continue to run at a pace that suits you. Your body will be the determining factor—if it doesn't want to go for 45 minutes anymore, it will tell you. If you didn't run before pregnancy, now is not the time to start. Stick to walking on the treadmill, recumbent cycling, or another form of non-ballistic exercise. Swimming is always a good choice as it keeps your body cool and your joints won't take a beating. Don't forget that you are still expending energy—stay hydrated before and after any type of aerobic exercise.
What Should You Avoid?
The popular stair climber cardio machine should not be your first choice for exercise, according to Dr. Atlas. He says that pregnant women are already becoming clumsier, and being on a moving machine that requires balance is not the safest way to exercise.