Is it safe to exercise during pregnancy? Pregnancy is an exciting time. Your body alters to accommodate the growing baby inside and as the months pass it can be tempting to forgo any type of exercise in the belief that exercise could harm the baby. But is this true? Or is it safe to continue exercising when pregnant?
Exercise during pregnancy is a contentious issue. Pregnant women who have posted pictures of themselves pumping iron or undertaking strenuous exercise are usually the recipients of a lot of abuse. And yet long distance runner, Paula Radcliffe, was still running 14 miles a day when five months pregnant.
The key to exercising safely during pregnancy is that you have to find the right balance. If you were a keen fitness fanatic before getting pregnant, there is no reason why you shouldn’t continue to exercise during your pregnancy as long as you are sensible. Obviously training for an IronMan would not be a clever idea at six months pregnant, but women whose bodies are accustomed to running or lifting weights are unlikely to experience problems if they continue.
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Why you should exercise during pregnancy? Unless there is a medical reason why you should rest during your pregnancy, doing some form of daily exercise is actually good for you. The general consensus of opinion is that taking regular exercise will make labour shorter and easier, and prevent complications. It will also help to prevent significant weight gain, back pain, constipation, depression, and ensure you enjoy a better night’s sleep.
An Exercise Newbie
Whilst exercise is generally very safe for pregnant women who are already fit, pregnancy is not the time to take up strenuous exercise if all you are not used to it. If you do decide to start exercising in order to maintain a sensible weight gain, take it easy and don’t try and do too much, too soon.
Exercise for Pregnancy
Swimming is great during pregnancy as the water acts as a buoyancy aid. You don’t even need to be able to swim in order to enjoy the water when you are pregnant: lots of pools offer aqua exercise classes, some of which are aimed at pregnant women. Yoga is another type of gentle exercise you might enjoy. Cycling is good during the first trimester, but as you gain weight your center of balance will alter, so it is not recommended in the later months.
Exercise to Avoid
Full-on contact sports should definitely be avoided during pregnancy, so cancel your boxing classes and think twice about taking up squash. Diving is also a no-no because the unborn baby has no protection against decompression sickness.
When to Stop Exercising
There will probably come a point when you don’t have the energy to exercise regularly. Exercise during pregnancy is generally safe, but listen to your body and if you begin to feel faint or dizzy, stop immediately. And if you feel worried about the pregnancy at any point, ask your midwife or doctor for advice.