Regular exercise during pregnancy can improve your posture and decrease some common discomforts such as backaches and fatigue. Being fit during pregnancy means safe, mild to moderate exercise at least three times a week.
If you were physically active before your pregnancy, you should be able to continue your activity in moderation. Don’t try to exercise at your former level. Instead, do what’s most comfortable for you now.
If you have never exercised regularly before, you can safely begin an exercise program during pregnancy—after consulting with your health care provider. If you did not exercise three times a week before getting pregnant, do not try a new strenuous activity. Start with a low-intensity activity and gradually move to a higher activity level.
Every pregnant woman should consult with her health care provider before beginning an exercise program. Your health care provider can give you personal exercise guidelines, based on your medical history.
If you have a medical problem, such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes, exercise might not be advisable for you. Exercise might also be harmful if you have an obstetric condition such as:
Most exercises are safe to perform during pregnancy, as long as you exercise with caution and do not overdo it.
The safest and most productive activities are swimming, brisk walking, indoor stationary cycling and low impact aerobics. These activities carry little risk of injury, benefit your entire body, and can be continued until birth.
Other activities such as jogging can be done in moderation. You might want to choose exercises or activities that do not require great balance or coordination, especially later in pregnancy.
For total fitness, an exercise program should strengthen and condition your muscles.
Always begin by warming up for five minutes and stretching for five minutes. Include at least 15 minutes of cardiovascular activity. Measure your heart rate at times of peak activity. (Your heart rate might range from 140 to 160 beats per minute during activity.) Follow aerobic activity with five to 10 minutes of gradually slower exercise that ends with gentle stretching.
Physical changes during pregnancy create extra demands on your body. Keeping in mind the changes listed here, remember that you need to listen to your body and adjust your activities or exercise routine as necessary.
It is best to ask your health care provider how soon you can begin your exercise routine after delivering your baby.
Although you might be eager to get in shape quickly, return to your pre-pregnancy fitness routines gradually. Follow your health care provider’s exercise recommendations.
Most women can safely perform a low-impact activity one to two weeks after a vaginal delivery and three to four weeks after a cesarean birth. Do about half of your normal floor exercises and don’t try to overdo it. Wait until about six weeks after birth before running or participating in other high-impact activities.
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