Is it safe for a woman to exercise while pregnant? What are some of the benefits of exercise during pregnancy?
Yes, exercise during pregnancy is safe. Of course a pregnant woman should always check with her health care provider before starting a new program.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. A woman can start slowly, by beginning with 5 minutes a day and then build up to 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and so forth until she reaches the 30 minute goal. If she is already active, she can continue to work out at the same level while pregnant as long as she feels physically comfortable.
A healthy exercise program can boost the energy level, help prevent back ache, strengthen muscles, and help reduce the risk of medical complications such as diabetes or hypertension.
Some activities to consider include walking, swimming, or spin cycling. If the woman has already been a runner, she may continue during pregnancy but of course slow or stop if she becomes overly tired. Muscle building or strength training is ok to a point, but she should avoid lifting heavy weights.
Any activity that has a high risk of falling should be avoided. The pregnant woman should not be involved in gymnastics, water or snow skiing, contact sports obviously, or scuba diving.
She should drink plenty of fluids and avoid working out in hot humid conditions to avoid overheating or becoming dehydrated.
She should stop exercising if she becomes dizzy, becomes short of breath, develops abdominal or chest pain, vaginal bleeding or fluid leaking.
After delivery, walking is a good way to become active again. Once the woman is cleared by her provider, she may return to more strenuous activities.