You don’t need fancy equipment or a gym membership to adopt a more physically active lifestyle. Walking is the easiest thing to start with. Recruit a friend or co-worker to go with you and make it a social activity. If you're new at exercising, you can start working out slowly, aiming to reach at least 30 minutes a day.
While breathing hard during your workouts is perfectly fine when you’re expecting, overexerting yourself can lead to problems like dehydration or lack of oxygen to your baby if you end up short of breath for long periods. That’s why it’s more important than ever to learn to listen to your body during pregnancy.
Instead, get in sync with how you feel. If an exercise feels good, it's probably okay, while experiencing pain or strain is not. A little sweat is good, while drenching sweat is not. And remember the "talk" test: You should be working hard enough that you feel yourself breathing more heavily, but you should never be so out of breath that you aren't able to talk, sing or whistle while you work.
Experiment with different activities to see what you like. Download a yoga video or try a spin class. Find something you enjoy, because if you don’t like it, you won’t continue it. Whatever you end up doing, remember these tips:
- Talk with your physician about your exercise plan.
- Stay cool and well-hydrated.
- Dial down the intensity.
- Modify exercises if needed.
- Listen to your body.
If you experience any of these symptoms, stop exercising right away and give your practitioner a call:
- Unusual pain anywhere (hips, back, pelvis, chest, head and so on)
- A cramp or stitch that doesn't go away when you stop exercising
- Regular, painful uterine contractions
- Chest pain
- Calf pain or swelling
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Very rapid heartbeat
- Severe breathlessness
- Difficulty walking
- Loss of muscle control
- Sudden headache
- Increased swelling
- Amniotic fluid leakage
- Vaginal bleeding
What activities are safe for pregnant women?
We discourage pregnant women from engaging in a few physical activities. You should avoid contact sports or activities in which there is a risk of falling, but many of the activities you may already be doing or want to start are perfectly safe and are good for you and your baby.
Activities that are safe during pregnancy:
- Stationary cycling
- Low-impact aerobics
- Strength training
Activities to avoid during pregnancy:
- Contact sports (hockey, boxing, soccer, and basketball)
- Activities with a high risk of falling (downhill snow or water skiing, off-road cycling, gymnastics, and horseback riding)
- Scuba diving
- Sky diving
- Hot yoga or hot Pilates