Gestational diabetes, elevated blood sugar levels during pregnancy, and preeclampsia, a form of high blood pressure, are two of the most common pregnancy complications. They are both potentially serious and can result in present and future health risks to you and your child.
Did you know the risk of these complications may be reduced through regular exercise?* It’s true! Your fitness level goes a long way in keeping you healthy before, during and after your pregnancy.
What’s the skinny on how much I should weigh during my pregnancy?
The average, healthy woman should gain 25-30 lbs during pregnancy; 28-40 lbs if underweight (body mass index (BMI) less than 18.5). If overweight, (BMI of 25 or higher), weight gain should stay within 11-25 lbs.** If you are underweight during pregnancy it can cause malnourishment, low birth weight in your baby, and premature delivery. Weighing too much during pregnancy can cause gestational diabetes, back pain, leg pain, fatigue, varicose veins, high blood pressure, and increased risk of needing a C-section.
Isn’t it bad to jump around while I’m pregnant?
While jumping on a trampoline isn’t recommended, according to The American College of Sports Medicine, during pregnancy you should exercise aerobically at a moderate intensity (moderately hard to hard), for 15-30 minutes, 3 days a week at minimum, and preferably daily.
You should also, at the very least, add low-weight strength training to your routine. This will help to ensure you are strong enough to carry your baby in his or her car seat, along with your diaper bag and everything else you can’t leave the house without! Resistance training during pregnancy should be performed at a modified intensity. The recommendation is 2-3 days per week, with a day of rest in between. It should include 6-10 exercises, and 2-3 sets of 12-15 repetitions.
You’ve convinced me! I’m going to train for a marathon!
If you are new to regular exercise you should start slowly and increase your workouts gradually. You can continue the activities you enjoyed before pregnancy as long as they don’t involve contact (basketball, soccer, etc.) or being in a supine position (gymnastics).
SERIOUSLY: Reasons to Stop Exercise While Pregnant***
If you get a sudden onset of headaches, if you are short of breath before you start exercising, if you have vaginal bleeding, chest pain, muscle weakness, calf pain or swelling, if you sense decreased fetal movement, or if there is amniotic fluid leakage discontinue exercise and contact your provider promptly.
Ready to give it a try but don’t know where to begin?
Here are some safe exercises that you can do throughout your pregnancy.
Bicep Curls (great for strengthening your arms to pick up your kids, car seat, groceries…)
Squats or Sit-to-Stands (great for preparing to sit and then stand with a baby in your arms)
Wall Pushups (great prep for pushing a stroller)
Basic exercises with dumbbells are perfectly safe during pregnancy, just remember you are taking care of someone else, and your energy may not be what it was. Decrease or add weight as needed.
Nervous about exercising in a gym?
Pregnant women may hesitate going to the gym, because they feel awkward working out around serious lifters and lots of machismo. Or they may feel like they can’t do the same exercises. There are all types of prenatal group exercise classes that women can participate in during pregnancy, from prenatal yoga to water aerobics. Both prenatal yoga and prenatal water aerobics are modified versions of their original counterparts to avoid twisting, high impact activity, and getting in compromising positions that are not cleared by physicians during pregnancy. Make sure to look into a prenatal yoga class from a certified instructor. Prenatal yoga instructors are trained to learn the proper positions and movement during pregnancy. Prenatal water aerobics is great for those who were not physically active before becoming pregnant because it is very low impact, but still offers a great workout! Valley Medical Center’s Fitness Center offers prenatal water aerobics twice per week!
Congratulations on your pregnancy, and on your new physical fitness!
* 2005 Jul;33(3):141-9.
No need for a pregnant pause: physical activity may reduce the occurrence of gestational diabetes mellitus and preeclampsia.
Dempsey JC, Butler CL, Williams MA
Source: Center for Perinatal Studies, Swedish Medical Center and Department of Epidemiology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98122, USA
**(http://www.cdc.gov/Features/DiabetesPregnancy/ and http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/eatingfortwo.html)
***Before starting any new exercise programs always consult with your provider, OB/GYN, and/or exercise specialist first.
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