Posted by Claudia Grazioso on December 2, 2011
When I was pregnant the first time — and I can’t believe I’m actually about to type this — I continued to exercise five days a week up until a week before I delivered. At the time, I did it because, as a couch potato by nature, I had spent many years forcing myself to exercise regularly. I was afraid that if I stopped, I would never start again, and it was undeniable how much better I felt getting regular exercise. I also rather enjoyed the admiration of the other people at the gym as my belly got bigger and bigger (and bigger).
It turns out that it wasn’t just good for my ego — that regular exercise was good for my pregnancy, as well.
Most health care practitioners agree that exercise is good for pregnant women. It can improve their mood, help with stress and relieve the aches and pains that come with pregnancy. It also keeps you in shape for the really tough stuff to come — parenthood. But it’s important to know what kinds of exercise are best for you. Swimming is considered a great choice for pregnant women because it will help keep you toned, will give you a moderate cardio workout and because you are weightless in the water you might — might — feel graceful for an hour or two.
Yoga is another top choice. It will keep you serene and toned, and there are even classes geared specifically toward the kind of gentle stretching that feels like a massage to pregnant women. Walking is another great option — just make sure you have good, supportive shoes as your pregnancy progresses. Cycling is also okay, but most experts recommend riding a stationary bike as eventually in pregnancy your center of gravity shifts, and your balance might be a little off. Finally, if you were a jogger before your pregnancy, most doctors agree that you can continue, but you should talk to your own doctor about continuing to run, or any exercise program you wish to start while pregnant.
Like every child, every pregnancy is different, and it would be wise to get your doctor’s input on the kind of exercise that would be best for you.
There are a few common sense rules to follow. Be sure to warm up slowly and cool down afterwards. Don’t get your heart rate above 140, and don’t lie flat on your back when you exercise. Steer clear of dangerous sports — sorry, you need to put those luge plans on hold! — and stop exercising and talk to your doctor if you experience dizziness, contractions, shortness of breath or vaginal bleeding.
Other than that, lace up those shoes (if you can still reach your toes!) and go wow the folks at your local gym.