How To Stay Fit During Pregnancy And The Benefits Of Exercise In Each Trimester

How To Stay Fit During Pregnancy. An image of a fit pregnant woman on the coast representing How To Stay Fit During Pregnancy.

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How To Stay Fit During Pregnancy

Decades ago and prior to that, it was believed that pregnant women were not supposed to
exercise because they were to fragile. That any kind of exercise could potentially harm the baby. Some cultures today believe this myth to be a fact. However, researchers have found over the years that not only is exercise safe, but it is highly encouraged during pregnancy. That is because the expecting mother will stay fit and exercise helps with keeping the blood and air circulation going which is critical for the baby’s growth. Additionally, being committed to exercising during pregnancy also helps reduce the risk of many complications such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. That alone should be a motivating factor for any mom to be to want to stay fit while pregnant!

The only time that exercise is off-limits during pregnancy is if there is a complication or the doctor advised not to.

Exercises To Avoid During Pregnancy

It is important to keep in mind the type of exercise that expecting mothers should do. It is not safe to run marathons, lift heavyweights, and do intense workouts; especially in the heat. It is also not advisable to play any contact sports which can increase the risk of having a fall. Any type of exercise that requires the breath to be held in for a prolonged period, as well as any type of exercise that requires a lot of knee bending or waist bending should be avoided.

Best Exercises During Pregnancy

It is important to know what is safe to do during each stage of pregnancy. Before delving into that part, let’s go over the types of exercises that pregnant women must take advantage of in order to stay fit which is also referred to prenatal exercises or workouts:

  • Brisk Walking – This form of exercise is not only highly recommended but it is most definitely safe for pregnant women to do in each of the trimesters. It is ideal to take a brisk walk for a half-hour for at least 5 days a week in order to stay in shape. And if the
    expecting mother has not exercised much before pregnancy, it is recommended to start slowly by taking a brisk walk initially for 10 to 15 minutes each day until she is used to it, then to increase it to a half an hour. This will help burn calories and keep the blood pumping. Talking brisk walks are safe to do and are extremely helpful when it comes to staying fit. Another thing to keep in mind if the weather doesn’t allow for a walk outdoors, an elliptical can be used.
  • Swimming – Swimming is great because it helps keep the mom to be fit and she does not feel any strain at all as the water keeps her light, and it is also a great exercise to help keep the circulation moving. That is because swimming encourages movement which is easy to do since the water helps create the feeling of being light while moving. And, water also helps with reducing fluid and keeps edema to the minimum during the later stages of pregnancy.
  • Water Aerobics – Working out in the water is great because once again, it helps prevent the mom to be feeling strained when exercising. Water aerobics helps with strengthening the muscles which is important because strong muscles are needed to not only carry the baby well but for labor and delivery. However, be sure to stick to water aerobics and say
    no to water sports as it can increase the chance of injury.
  • Low-Impact Aerobics – If the pregnant woman was doing aerobics in the past, then she can stick to doing low-impact aerobics during pregnancy. It is a great muscle- strengthening exercise.
  • Yoga – Prenatal yoga is an important exercise because it helps with the deep breathing which is meant to keep expecting moms calm and centered. And this is quite important because the pregnant mom is going to have to focus on breathing when it is time for labor. And taking prenatal yoga will only help with that. It is also excellent to help keep the abdominal muscles toned which is also necessary for having a smooth labor.
  • Low-Intensity Weight Training – The key phrase is to keep the weight training at a low-intensity during pregnancy. And weight training can be more moderate in the first trimester (which will be discussed more later on), however, as the pregnancy progresses, weight training must only be at a low-intensity. However, it is recommended because it helps strengthen the muscles in the abdomen which is necessary as the baby will only grow. And, strong abdominal muscles are a must when it comes to labor and delivery. Additionally, this form of exercise really does keep the rest of the body strengthened which is necessary for being able to carry the baby towards the very end.
  • Spinning – Even though bike riding is not recommended during pregnancy due to the risk of experiencing a fall, pregnant women can take that spin class. Spinning helps with strengthening the muscles and keeping the circulation going. Holding onto the spin bike’s handlebars can also help maintain a sense of balance which is a big challenge for pregnant women as their bumps are growing.

Pregnant women can do all of the previously recommended exercises in all three trimesters with a few modifications.

Best Prenatal Exercises For The Three Trimesters

Now that you know what types of exercises are safe during pregnancy, and which ones to avoid,
let’s now go over which exercises are best for each trimester:

First Trimester Exercises

If a pregnant woman has been exercising a lot before getting pregnant, then during the first
trimester, the intensity of the workouts don’t need to change too much. If a pregnant woman has not exercised often before conception, the first trimester is the time to start. It is best to start slowly. For instance, with brisk walking or swimming, it is best to start doing those workouts for 10 to 15 minutes, and then to work up to a half-hour(not any longer than that). The only thing that can get in the way when it comes to exercising in the first trimester is dealing with the rough pregnancy symptoms such as nausea and fatigue.

Second Trimester Exercises

At this point, nausea and fatigue would have subsided. This means that workouts can be done
longer since the energy is there. However, because of the growing bump, it is not at all
advisable to do any type of exercises that require lying on the stomach or back. Exercising on the side is fine, however. Another thing that is important to know is that at this stage of pregnancy, research has found that it is fine to go over 140 bpm which is contrary to what doctors have previously said. It does depend on the age, and the fitness level. There are many devices that will help monitor the heart rate for pregnant women that are concerned. It is still okay to do a half-hour workout of any type of exercise in the second trimester. However, things will change as far as recommendations go in the third trimester.

Third Trimester Exercises

This is a time when exercising can become tough due to the large bump that is going to keep growing until the very end. However, lifting light weights is still a good idea such as 3 to 5 lbs dumbbells as it keeps the arms strong. This is also a time to do the type of exercises that the expecting mom is comfortable with. If she prefers to swim over taking a brisk walk, then she should swim. If she only wants to take brisk walks, then that is what she should do. However, it is essential to keep up with exercising in the third trimester as it not only helps with keeping the body and arms strong to carry the baby, but it helps with labor preparation!

If you are a pregnant woman reading about how to stay fit during pregnancy, best of luck to you and your new baby, and stay fit – and be consistent with it! Don’t forget to check out our list of pregnancy superfoods that will help you stay fit during your pregnancy and our Parenting Tips Blog for more great advice!

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Written by Whitney Rowley