Pregnancy can be an exciting time in your life, but it’s also important to understand the risks associated with certain activities and the benefits of others.
In general, it’s best to avoid physical activity that causes jarring or jerking motions and to limit your workouts to about half of what you did before you were pregnant. For example, if you were working out two hours a day before you were pregnant, you should cut that back to one hour during your pregnancy. That way, you can stay healthy and enjoy your new baby when he or she arrives!
Exercise can reduce stress
One of your best weapons against swelling and weight gain during pregnancy is exercise. While you need to be cautious about working out, it can help you stay strong which also reduces stress on your body.
Why don’t you try water aerobics? In addition to being low-impact, swimming is considered one of the safest forms of exercise during pregnancy because you are immersed in water, which adds weight to your body and puts less strain on joints than exercising on land.
However, don’t forget abut wearing a life jacket. If you’re taking part in any activity that might get you into trouble — like jumping off a diving board or sliding down a steep hill — wear a personal flotation device (PFD) at all times.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
If you’re thinking about starting a family and want to ensure you stay healthy during pregnancy, it’s important to maintain a healthy weight—both before and after your baby is born.
Research has shown that too much weight gain during pregnancy could increase your risk of developing gestational diabetes, a condition in which blood sugar levels are high in pregnant women. For example, women who put on more than 25 pounds between their first and last trimester were found to be at greater risk for gestational diabetes as well as delivering larger babies who can have health problems. Healthy-weight moms are also less likely to develop chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes later in life, according to research published in Diabetes Care.
Stay Hydrated, Especially in Hot Weather
Staying hydrated is important for your health and well-being, but it’s especially important during pregnancy. If you’re exercising in hot weather, be sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water before, during and after your workout. If you are new to exercise or are concerned about becoming dehydrated on hot days, start with shorter workouts (no more than 30 minutes) that involve slower movements with high repetitions such as walking, cycling or swimming laps. Stay away from activities like running and lifting weights until you learn how to gauge your body’s response to strenuous activity in a hot environment.
Don’t Push Yourself Too Hard Too Fast
It’s tempting to dive into a workout routine when you’re pregnant, but don’t overdo it from day one. Your body needs time to adjust. By all means, find an exercise regimen that is enjoyable and you can stick with through your pregnancy, but be sure not to push yourself too hard too fast. Start slow and build up intensity as you go.
Eat a Well-Balanced Diet While Exercising
Eating a balanced diet while exercising is important during pregnancy. It’s especially important to make sure you are eating at least three servings of fresh fruits and vegetables per day, and drinking lots of water. At least half of your plate should be made up of fresh fruits and vegetables during each meal. A healthy snack could be a handful of nuts, or an apple with cheese for lunch. Drink about 12-16 glasses (64 ounces) of water per day as well as unsweetened tea, coffee or low-fat milk. Be sure to eat plenty of protein sources like chicken, fish and beans every day, too.
Wear Proper Apparel When Working Out
When you’re pregnant, your body goes through many changes, and unfortunately clothing that used to fit comfortably suddenly doesn’t. Before you begin working out, make sure to get a workout top designed for pregnant women and capris that aren’t too tight around your hips. This way, if things get a little uncomfortable, it’s much easier to adjust clothing instead of adjusting mid-workout. When you’re able to focus on exercising instead of adjusting clothes or trying not to flash everyone around you, it’s much easier to find time in your day for exercise and enjoy yourself.
As a newly pregnant woman, you’re sure to have a lot of questions about what’s safe for you and your baby. Of course, some of these issues can be more pressing than others—you may not be too concerned about what your favorite foods are when it comes to avoiding alcohol and caffeine, but if you have any risk factors for gestational diabetes or preeclampsia (or an otherwise healthy pregnancy), it’s definitely time to have a better understanding about exercise before you attempt it.