Between the weight gain, the expanding belly, the fatigue and all the other stressors brought on by pregnancy, it’s easy to lose sight of your physical fitness. But staying in shape should be the goal of every pregnant women for a variety of reasons. Not only is fitness good for your overall health, but it can help you stay active as your pregnancy wears on, and maintaining these habits can make them easier to resume after you’ve given birth.
While it’s easiest to start a fitness routine prior to pregnancy and aim to maintain it over the nine-month period, it’s never too late to try and get active. As long as you have permission from your doctor, you can pursue physical fitness in a variety of ways. Here are some suggestions to help jump-start your efforts.
Lifting weights won’t turn you in to a muscular pro wrestler-type, despite what you might think. A little heavy lifting can be great for your pregnant body. It will speed up your metabolism and improve heart health while helping strengthen and tone your muscles. If you haven’t had a lifting routine in place before becoming pregnant, you’ll want to talk to your doctor about how to incorporate this routine into your workouts. Your doctor may encourage you starting out with a very light workload to prevent your lifting from creating unnecessary stress on your body.
Even if you’ve had a lifting routine in place before becoming pregnant, your doctor may recommend scaling back your lifting sessions. You might also try reducing the weight you lift and compensating by increasing the number of repetitions performed.
Endurance-focused cardiovascular exercise is the best way to promote heart health, improve circulation and directly improve your energy and mood levels. Sometimes pregnant women can experience lethargy from the hormones and weight gain that occurs during gestation. Even short 30-minute workouts on a treadmill or elliptical can make a big difference.
Plus, cardio workouts can help you avoid packing on unnecessary pounds. Again, consult your doctor before starting a workout routine. You might even be able to find an aerobics workout program that targets pregnant women in your area.
Yoga is a popular workout routine among pregnant women because of the array of prenatal yoga classes that are found at most studios. This activity can help you improve flexibility, increase relaxation and boost your overall mood while providing the toning and cardio benefits of other workouts. Even if a prenatal yoga class isn’t available in your area, you can probably find a good workout program available on DVD.
No one pops up and does a 10-miler the day after giving birth, but most women are eager to start working out after a pregnancy to shed extra pounds and tone their body. This will be an easier transition if you’ve been consistently working out during your pregnancy, but even if that’s not the case you can still get up and active without too much trouble. Find an activity known for burning calories quickly, such as interval training, and ease yourself into it. You should start seeing some results within a few weeks, and you’ll feel better, too.
The most important consideration when exercising during pregnancy is to avoid pushing yourself too much. While it’s an admirable characteristic at other times in your life, placing large amounts of physical strain on a pregnant body can have bad consequences. Focus on being active and take a break if you ever feel dizzy or light-headed — the gains of intense exercise are simply not worth the risk.