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Exercise during pregnancy, yay or nay?

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

Pregnancy is often mixed with intense emotions like excitement, fear, doubt, or love. A "tale as old as time” where women were advised not to exercise when pregnant, a pure myth. Today we know differently, it is not only ok to keep your body active but doing so you can have a positive impact on both mom and the baby.

One important thing a woman should keep in mind that, she should consult her doctor before starting any exercise programs. There are some women who are not supposed to exercise during pregnancy due to certain complications.

During pregnancy, your body produces a hormone called "relaxin". It's designed to help lubricate joints so labor is easier. When joints are too "lax," your risk of injury increases. What you should avoid is involving into deep muscle or joint movements activities such as heavy lunges, squats or those types of exercise. Exercises involving balance like hiking, skiing can be dangerous during pregnancy as your balance is affected after the fourth month. If you have never exercised before then pregnancy is not the time to be an exercise or gym bunny, but that doesn’t mean you will spend your nine months sitting on the couch or sleeping all the time. Something as simple as taking a daily walk or swimming can do wonders for your pregnancy and can make you feel better and positive as well. Exercise can also help to get you a good sleep during pregnancy.

Yoga can also be beneficial as long as you take certain precautions. Yoga helps you breathe and relax, which in turn can help you adjust to the physical demands of pregnancy, labor, birth, and motherhood. It calms both mind and body, providing the physical and emotional stress relief your body needs throughout pregnancy. Taking a prenatal yoga class is also a great way to meet other moms-to-be and embark on this journey together. The most important thing to before starting Yoga is to inform your instructor that you are pregnant and don’t do any poses on your back as they can reduce the blood flow to the uterus. You should also avoid the poses that stretches your muscles too much particularly your abdominals.

Safe and Unsafe Exercises during Pregnancy:

The following activities are safe to initiate and continue:

  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Stationary cycling
  • Low impact aerobics
  • Modified Yoga
  • Modified Pilates
  • Jogging
  • Weight Training



The following activities should be avoided:

  • Contact Sports like boxing, soccer, ice hockey, basketball
  • Activities with a high risk of falling (snow skiing, water skiing, surfing, off road cycling, gymnastics and horseback riding)
  • Scuba diving
  • Sky Diving
  • Hot Yoga or Hot Pilates

Warning Signs to discontinue exercise while Pregnant:

  • Vaginal Bleeding
  • Regular painful contractions
  • Amniotic Fluid leakage
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Chest Pain
  • Muscle Weakness affecting balance
  • Calf pain or swelling

Even though pregnancy is associated with profound anatomic and physiologic changes, exercise has minimal risks and has been shown to benefit most women. Women with uncomplicated pregnancies should be encouraged to engage in physical activities before, during, and after pregnancy. Obstetrician–gynecologists and other obstetric care providers should carefully evaluate women with medical or obstetric complications before making recommendations on physical activity participation during pregnancy. Although the evidence is limited, some benefit to pregnancy outcomes has been shown and there is no evidence of harm when not contraindicated. Physical activity and exercise during pregnancy promotes physical fitness and may prevent excessive gestational weight gain. Exercise may reduce the risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and cesarean deliveries.

Most importantly, “Listen to your body and trust what it tells you”