A woman should clearly understand the risks and potential benefits associated with exercising during pregnancy and should make the decision to exercise in conjunction with her physician.
Studies of the cardiovascular responses of pregnant women have shown that women can maintain and even improve their cardiovascular, respiratory and aerobic capacities during pregnancy. A pregnant woman’s heart works at a very high level due to the increased demand of pregnancy. And as pregnancy progresses the heart is less able to adapt to the increased demand. This is why pregnant women should be discouraged from exercising or participating in activities at high levels.
Flexibility in a woman increases during pregnancy. With the release of the hormone relaxin, joints become looser, increasing the risk for injury during exercise.
Exercises increases body temperature which can be harmful for the fetus, especially if the core body temperature exceeds 100° F (38° C). Pregnant woman should be careful when exercising since body temperature adjustment is more difficult for them.
A few exercise guidelines
- Do not begin a vigorous exercise program shortly before or during pregnancy.
- Gradually reduce the intensity, duration and frequency of exercise during the second and third trimesters.
- Try to run or walk on flat, even surfaces.
- Wear supportive shoes while walking or running during pregnancy.
- Extend warm up and cool down periods.
- Avoid performing exercises in supine position especially after first trimester.
- Body temperature should not exceed 100° F (38° C).
- Exercise during the cooler part of the day.
- Eat small snack before exercise to help avoid hypoglycemia.
- Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise.
- Avoid over stretching or going beyond normal range of motion.
- Any unusual physical changes such as severe fatigue, joint pain or irregular heartbeats should immediately be reported to a physician.
Once again, remember, do not start an exercise program without consulting your physician.