Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Suggested Exercises for Pregnancy

Now that I am pregnant myself, I am enjoying doing more research and reminding myself about this stuff.  Exercise is something that I do not usually enjoy getting myself to do, but I know that it is beneficial, so this is a great reminder for me to get moving despite feeling icky.  Many times it can ultimately make you feel better (nudging myself).

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Exercises to Try

What type of exercise you do depends on what interests you and what your doctor advises.  Many women enjoy dancing, swimming, water aerobics, yoga, Pilates, biking, or walking.  Swimming can be especially appealing, as it gives you welcome buoyancy, relieving some of that extra weight you are carrying around.  Try bringing in a combination of cardio, strength and flexibility exercises, and avoid bouncing.

One of the most recommended forms of exercise is walking.  Anyone can do it, you can make it harder or easier by varying the pace or adding hills and distance.  If you are just starting, begin with a moderately brisk pace for a mile, 3 days a week.  Add a couple minutes every week, pick up the pace a bit, and eventually add hills to your route.  Whether you are a pro or a novice, go slowly for the first 5 minutes to warm up and use the last 5 minutes to cool down.

If you were a runner before you were pregnant, in many cases, you can continue running during your pregnancy, although you may have to modify your routine.

Whatever exercise you decide to pursue, the key is to listen to your body's warnings.  Many women, for example, become dizzy early in their pregnancy, and as the baby grows, their center of gravity changes.  So it may be easy for you to lose your balance, especially in the last trimester.

Your energy level may also vary greatly from day to day.  And as your baby grows and pushes up on your lungs, you will have more difficulty breathing in more air when exercising.  If your body says, "Stop!", stop!  This is not the time to push yourself to the max.

Your body is telling you that it's had enough if you feel:
-fatigue
-dizziness
-heart palpitations (your heart pounds in your chest)
-shortness of breath
-pain in your back or pelvis

And if you cannot talk while you are exercising, you are going too hard.

It can also be dangerous for your baby if you become overheated because temperatures greater than 102.6 degrees F (39 degrees C) could cause problems with the developing baby, especially in the first trimester, that can lead to birth defects.  So be careful to not overdo it on hot days.  When the weather is hot, try avoiding exercising outside during the hottest part of the day (from about 10am to 3pm) or exercise in an air-conditioned place.  Also remember that swimming makes it more difficult for you to notice your body heating up because the water makes you feel cooler.

Kegel Exercises

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Kegel exercises are great exercises to do when pregnant.  Since you cannot see them being done from the outside, you can do them anywhere.  They are used to reduce incontinence (the leakage of urine) caused by the weight of the baby on the bladder.  Kegels help to strengthen the "pelvic floor muscles" (the muscles that aid in controlling urination and supports the weight of everything on the pelvic floor).

Kegels are easy, and you can do them any time you have a few seconds such as sitting in your car, at your desk, or standing in line at the store.  No one will even know you're doing them!  To find the correct muscles, pretend you are trying to stop urinating.  Squeeze those muscles for a few seconds, then relax.  You are using the correct muscles if you feel a pull.  Or place a finger inside your vagina and feel it tighten when you squeeze.  Your doctor can also help you identify the correct muscles.

When you perform Kegel exercises, do not tighten other muscles (stomach or legs) at the same time.  You want to focus on the muscles you are exercising.  Do not hold your breath while you do them because it is important that your body and muscles continue to receive oxygen while you do any type of exercise.  Do not practice doing Kegels while urinating, as this can lead to incomplete emptying of your bladder, which increases the risk for a urinary tract infection.

Exercises to Avoid

Most doctors recommend that pregnant women in second and third trimesters avoid any exercises that involve them lying flat on their backs.  Unless you receive other advice from your doctor, it is best to avoid any activities that include: bouncing, jarring (anything with a lot of up and down movement), leaping, a sudden change of direction, or a risk of abdominal injury.

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Some typical limitations include contact sports, downhill skiing, scuba diving, and horseback riding because of the risk of injury they pose.  Also, because your abdomen is stretched so much already, it is best to avoid crunches or sit-ups as well. 

Although some doctors say step aerobics workouts are acceptable if you can lower the height of your step as your pregnancy progresses, others caution that a changing center of gravity makes falls much more likely.  If you do choose to do aerobics, just make sure to avoid becoming extremely winded or exercising to the point of exhaustion.

You may want to contact your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms during exercise:
-vaginal bleeding
-unusual pain
-dizziness or lightheadedness
-unusual shortness of breath
-racing heartbeat or chest pain
-fluid leaking from your vagina
-uterine contractions

Exercise is great for your pregnant body.  There are a variety of things you can do to keep your body fit and healthy.  But it is also important to pay attention to your body and to not push yourself too hard.  Your body is different during this time and reacts to exercise differently because of that.  Get moving and talk to your doctor about safe exercise or concerns.  Thanks for reading!

4 comments:

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