How-To-Do Cardio During Pregnancy 101
Don’t let anyone stop you from staying healthy and keeping your body in shape during pregnancy.
Many people truly mean well when they try to stop pregnant women from exercising but they really don’t know what they are talking about!
Cardio during pregnancy can mean the difference between feeling and looking good OR feeling and looking a mess. Exercise helps your mood, lessens your aches and pains, and gives you a better night’s sleep. And as if that’s not enough, exercise while pregnant helps lessen your chances of preeclampsia and avoid gestational diabetes.
But you don’t have to listen to my big mouth, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also recommends that pregnant women workout 30 minutes a day most days of the week. There are plenty low-impact cardio workouts that you can do to get your heart pumping, keep your weight in check, and activate your muscles without causing undue physical stress for your baby or yourself.
The following exercises are usually not dangerous for expectant moms, although some of them may not be recommended during the last couple of months of your pregnancy.
Remember to ALWAYS consult your health care provider before embarking on any exercise regimen when you’re carrying a baby.
Great Cardio Exercises For Pregnant Women
- Walking: Power walking is one of the absolute best cardiovascular exercises for pregnant women, it’s great because it keeps you fit without jarring your knees and ankles.
It helps to tone your legs and butt and it’s easy to do pretty much anywhere. You don’t need any special workout gear beyond a great pair of good walking shoes. This is also a workout that is safe during all 9 months of your pregnancy.
- Swimming: Many doctors and health care specialist rave about swimming as the safest and best cardio exercise for pregnant women. Swimming is amazingly effective cardio because it exercises every single muscle in your body, it strengthens your heart without causing any wear and tear to your body.
- Dancing: It’s fun and easy to get your heart racing by shaking your groove thang (that’s how you ended up pregnant in the first place, lol) to your favorite music in the comfort of your own home, and of course many gyms have dance studios as well. Just be sure to avoid dance routines that call for twirls, or jumping. Dancing can be fun, but don’t get crazy with it because you don’t want to fall.
- Low-impact Aerobics: Aerobic cardio exercise strengthens your heart and helps you keep your body toned and ready for your big “come back” after the birth of your child. And if you take an aerobics class that is specifically for expectant mothers, you’ll be able to enjoy the camaraderie of other soon-to-be-moms and feel reassured that each motion is safe for your baby and yourself.
Exercise Frequency & Intensity During Pregnancy
Depending on the your individual medical history and exercise selection, the recommended method of taking on an exercise program can differ. Your doctor can assist you with this.
Generally though, it is recommended that pregnant women who have a low risk of problems with their pregnancy, engage in moderate intensity exercise for 30 minutes a day, 4 times per week.
A good way to discover a comfortable workout intensity while exercising is through the “talk test”. This means that you should be able to hold a conversation while you are exercising, if not, your workout intensity is too high, it is not regarded as moderate intensity and you should reduce your physical activity level until you can physically hold a conversation during your cardio exercise. I’m not saying that you SHOULD be holding a conversation, only that you should be able to do so.
Exercises To Avoid During Pregnancy
While exercise should NOT be avoided during your pregnancy. Certain TYPES of exercises should be avoided.
Certain kinds of exercise and cardio for pregnant women increase the risk of health problems for you and your baby, increases stress and can cause other complications. Simply put, some cardio exercise are too tiring and uncomfortable for you to try while with child.
It is important that women who are planning to workout while they’re pregnant are conscious of what exercises you should avoid including:
- Lifting heavy weights while pregnant is not recommended because it puts too much stress on your musculoskeletal and cardiovascular system.
Save that for after the baby is born, heavy weight lifting is great for women but you have to be careful when your carrying your bundle of joy, so keep the weights light and enjoy your workout.
- Any exercise that requires you to lie on your back after the first trimester of your pregnancy should be avoided to reduce the risk of changing the flow of blood to the fetus and hypotension.
- Holding your breath during challenging sessions of weight training or yoga exercises. If you need to stop your breathing during any exercise this is a very clear sign that you’re over-exerting yourself with a heavier than needed workload and you should quit the exercise immediately.
- Exercises which involve you lying on the stomach must be avoided through all phases of your pregnancy, no matter the trimester.
- Some ab exercises will make you feel uneasy because of weakness in the ab muscle tissue and the development of abdominal separation, a normal condition called diastasis recti. This occurs as a consequence of the growing uterus.
- Standing still for long intervals isn’t advised.
- Scuba diving should be avoided as the pressure can result in birth defects and fetal decompression sickness.
- Contact sports and high-impact sports such as soccer, volleyball, basketball and ice hockey can risk abdominal trauma, put excessive strain on your joints and can easily cause falls. Do not do these activities while pregnant.
- Any actions that raise the risk of falls should be avoided in order to minimize the threat of injury to your fetus and yourself. This includes sports such as water skiing, horseback riding and gymnastics.
- Avoid exercises at high altitudes, altitude sickness can reduce the oxygen supply to the fetus may be induced by any sports at altitude. You ought to be guided through appropriate acclimatization and make changes to your tasks as directed by your doctor although this doesn’t appear to be the case for reasonable intensity exercise at elevations anywhere up to 2,500m but if you’d like to exercise at elevations above this be careful. If you experience symptoms of altitude sickness including chest pain, excessive shortness of breath and light-headedness and weakness, you must cease exercising immediately and seek medical aid.
If you talk with your physician about proper pregnancy supplementation and avoid all risky exercises you will be just fine, cardio during pregnancy is highly recommended and will give you a major head start to looking and feeling great once your baby has arrived. I wish you and your baby the best of health!