Contributor: Rebecca Justen, DPT, OCS
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One of the best things you can do during pregnancy is to continue to work out. It’s shown to help expectant mothers maintain a good weight, avoid the minor discomforts of pregnancy, and improve posture and body mechanics.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that pregnant women exercise three to five times a week. But before you do, be sure to discuss your sports and/or workout plans with your doctor to get medical clearance.
If you are a healthy woman with a normal pregnancy, you should be able to continue most athletic activities. You will simply want to slow the intensity of your workouts, especially as the months go on.
Advice about specific exercises
- Walking, swimming and water aerobics. Thumbs up on these. They are great activities to continue during pregnancy.
- Weight training. If you do strength training, decrease to lighter weights with higher repetitions.
- Yoga and Pilates. Do not do exercises that compress the belly in mid to late pregnancy.
- High-impact aerobics. Definitely want to stop doing this during pregnancy. Avoid rapid or uncontrolled bouncing or jerky movements.
- Horseback riding, skiing or gymnastics. Avoid these and any activities that put you at risk for falling.
- Running and bicycling. If you are a runner or regularly rode your bike prior to pregnancy, it’s OK to continue. Further into your pregnancy, be careful of the terrain to reduce your fall risk. Move inside to a stationary bike after the second trimester.
- Soccer, basketball and volleyball. Avoid these and any other recreational contact sports after the first trimester.
Whenever you exercise, you want to stay hydrated. Remember to drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise.
Also, focus on maintaining good posture and using good body mechanics. If anything doesn’t feel right, it’s important to pay attention. Always listen to your body and don’t push your limits.
It’s important to know when to avoid exercise too. Do not workout in excessive heat or humidity. And never work out to the point of fatigue.
Remember to talk to your physician before you workout while pregnant. Some discomfort during pregnancy can be normal. Pain is not. If you are having pain while exercising, stop and contact your doctor for help in determining a diagnosis and developing a treatment plan to keep you as active as possible.
This article was written in consultation with Salena Zanotti, MD, a Cleveland Clinic Ob/Gyn at the Avon Pointe Family Health Center. Rebecca Justen, DPT, OCS, is a physical therapist at the Strongsville Family Health Center.