Tips for Exercising During Pregnancy
I’ve always been an active person. Whether it was sports or dance growing up, doing my own routine at the gym or my group fitness obsession of Pure Barre over the past two years, I’ve always stayed moving. So when I found out I was pregnant, my first worry wasn’t whether or not I could continue exercising – there was enough information out there to make me feel at ease about that. My two larger concerns were if I would be able to push myself to the same limits in class that I did pre-pregnancy and if I could try new exercises that I didn’t do on a regular basis beforehand. In addition to doing my own research, I of course also addressed these concerns with my doctor. There are a few takeaways that I came away with.
Tips for Working Out While Pregnant
1. Yes, it is ok to engage in new exercises, though there are a couple of exceptions. The first being that you should avoid any sort of contact sport or an activity where you run the risk of falling down (skiing for example). Luckily, I’m not into football (or skiing for that matter) so this is not an issue for me. Secondly, hot yoga is a widely known “no-no” for pregnant women because of the risk of overheating. Other than that, trying out something new is acceptable so as long as you listen to your body and don’t overdo it, which brings me to my next point…
2. Take a step back if you’re feeling overworked. Pregnancy is not the time to push yourself to your absolute limit. This is a difficult one for me, especially in group fitness classes. I don’t want to be the one person who can’t handle it and has to take a ten second break. I’ve had to set my pride aside on more than one occasion, though, and take a break. Ultimately, the health and safety of my unborn baby trumps any sense of accomplishment I may attain by never coming out of an exercise. On that same note, if you’re an extremely competitive person, pregnancy may be the time to take a step back from group fitness classes and do your own thing instead so as to avoid comparing yourself to others.
3. Don’t overstretch your muscles. A pulled muscle isn’t going to harm your baby, but your body is in a state where it can’t recover as quickly. So that pulled muscle is going to stay pulled longer than it would if you weren’t pregnant, and adding a discomfort to your already changing body sounds less than ideal.
4. If you are participating in group fitness classes, let the instructor know that you’re pregnant. Chances are, they have modifications for you if anything becomes uncomfortable. In Pure Barre, for example, there are some exercises that require you to lie on your stomach. I modify by doing these exercises on all fours instead. And I’m sure as I progress further in my pregnancy, more modifications will become necessary. So if nothing else, it’s comforting to know that my instructor and I are on the same page.
Above all, the big thing I’ve learned is to listen to my body. Pregnancy can be a roller coaster, and some days I’m going to feel more capable of certain things than others. Pre-pregnancy, I worked out five to six times a week, but I’ve cut myself some slack now that I have another human life depending on my well-being. If I’m feeling tired, it actually may be better to veg out on the couch than to push myself to exercise. And as we know, every pregnancy is different. So just because the pregnant woman at your gym runs on the treadmill double the amount of time as you or your pregnant friend has been able to maintain her pre-pregnancy workout routine and you haven’t, it doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. It means that you’re doing what is best for you and your baby, and at the end of the day, that’s what is most important.