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Exercise is safe for many pregnant women.
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Exercise has an array of benefits during pregnancy, as long as you perform it safely and follow your doctor's recommendations. It can help back pain, boost your energy levels and mood, help you sleep, treat or prevent gestational diabetes and make labor easier, among other benefits. Follow certain recommendations to safely exercise while you are pregnant.
Types of Exercises
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, or ACOG, recommends swimming, walking, stationary cycling and other low-impact aerobics as safe exercises you can perform even if you are a beginner. If you ran before you were pregnant, you can most likely continue with it, although you might need to adapt your running according to your doctor's guidelines. You can also usually engage in weight-bearing exercises, which might include yoga, free weights or weight machines that are comfortable to you. Work with a personal trainer or exercise instructor to learn weight-bearing exercises that you could safely perform.
Exercises to Avoid
You should stay away from exercises that might cause you to fall, especially because of reduced balance during pregnancy, notes ACOG. This includes downhill skiing, water skiing, horseback riding, riding a bicycle and gymnastics. Also, avoid scuba diving because of the change in pressure and contact sports like basketball. Further, do not perform high-intensity weightlifting and avoid exercises that feel too strenuous on your body.
It is not safe for every pregnant woman to exercise, so it is important that you talk to your doctor before you start. For example, you might not be able to exercise if you have certain types of lung or heart disease, you have cervical issues or vaginal bleeding, or you have a risk for preterm labor. You should stop exercising and talk to your doctor if you experience symptoms like dizziness, vaginal bleeding or fluid leakage, chest pain, shortness of breath, headaches or any other symptoms that are abnormal for you.
You should also follow certain guidelines while exercising when pregnant. If you haven't been exercising, ACOG suggests you start with five minutes of exercise per day, adding five minutes per week until you reach 30 minutes a day. Then, continue at that level. Wear a fitted, supportive bra and comfortable, breathable clothing. Drink a lot of water and consume enough calories based on your exercise level; talk to your doctor about your water and caloric needs. Avoid jarring movements, jumping and quick direction changes. For the second and third trimesters, avoid exercises you perform on your back or on your belly. Also, watch that you do not become overheated -- hydrating and avoiding exercise in hot, humid conditions can help.