I am pregnant and I want to work out. Can you give me some guidelines?
Before you start any exercise routine, make sure your doctor has given you the “all clear.”
Your exercise routine prior to this pregnancy is a big indicator of what you can do while pregnant. A good general rule of thumb is: Don’t take up new sports or fitness activities while pregnant. Do what you are used to, just decrease the intensity.
If you have never been a regular exerciser, be careful during workouts, especially during the first trimester. Try gentle cardiovascular activity like walking or swimming.
Listen to your body. Do things that feel comfortable. Stop if things feel abnormal, if your hands or feet begin to swell, or if you feel pain, become dizzy or develop extreme fatigue.
Things to be aware of:
In your second and third trimester, never do exercises that involve lying on your back.
Stop doing any type of crunch motion if you notice any abnormal separation in your abdominal wall. A diastasis recti is a widening and softening of the tissue that holds the rectus abdominals together and causes separation of the two halves of the abdominals.
Keep your workouts at a low to moderate intensity. Always make sure you can talk comfortably during the workout.
The goal of working out should not be to lose weight, or get a personal best in a race. Use exercise as a way to feel good, be social and decrease any of the uncomfortable aspects of pregnancy.
Lift light weights for 12 to 15 repetitions. Include exercises that help with posture and improve core strength. Posture and core exercises can help alleviate back pain. Do not do excessive stretching, or any stretches that involves pulsing or bouncing. And make sure you hydrate properly and consume adequate pre- and post-workout nutrition.
Consistency, not intensity, is what is important. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise every day, versus two or three big workouts a week. Small amounts of regular exercise, like walking, aqua aerobics and recumbent biking can help alleviate muscle cramping and ankle swelling.
Send certified personal trainer Kathleen Trotter your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. She will answer select questions, which could appear in the Globe and Mail and/or on The Globe and Mail website. Your name will not be published if your question is chosen.
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