Is Exercise During Pregnancy SAFE for baby?

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pregnant-woman-exercise-ball2There is no doubt that EXERCISE is both excellent and necessary for you to do during your pregnancy.

Exercise helps you to reduce your pregnancy-related symptoms, manage your weight gain and speed up your post-partum recovery time.

However, you MUST make sure that whatever you choose to do is SAFE for both you and your baby.

I exercised during my pregnancy, but I only chose to do exercises that I enjoyed doing – like walking and swimming. I particularly liked swimming because it was non-weight bearing and it cooled me off (which was a huge help for my pregnancy-related overheating!).

For those of you who are looking for more than just swimming or walking – I’ve picked 5 subscriber questions that look at high impact movements, running up and down stairs, working your abdominals, doing Body Combat (!) and working your lower body…

Subscriber Question #1:

“Is it possible to tone my lower body while I’m pregnant?”

My Opinion:

YES! Some great exercises that you can do now to tone your lower body are lunges, inner thigh squeezes, leg extensions, and bum raises.

Now you’re not going to be doing intense leg work, so you probably won’t see drastic results. But every little bit helps and it WILL make you feel a whole lot better about the way you look (trust me!).

I would be cautious about some of the other leg exercises – for example, avoid anything that puts pressure on your back, like the leg press machine!

Subscriber Question # 2:

“As a fitness instructor, how long can I continue doing high impact movements?”

My Opinion:

I’m assuming that because you’re a fitness instructor you’re in good shape – which would make it okay to continue exercising during your pregnancy at a moderate intensity level – around 75% of your maximum heart rate (if you’re not in good shape, aim for around 65%!).

However, I’m not a big fan of high impact movements (i.e. jumping, step class etc.) because they can be jarring on your joints (which are already carrying a big enough load). Also, your center of gravity changes, which means you’re going to be much more likely to fall or injure yourself.

So, I recommend sticking to low-impact exercises, like swimming. You’ll find it better on your body – especially when your tummy starts getting bigger!

Subscriber Question #3:

“Can I do abdominal work to keep control over my love handles (fat on the sides of my tummy)?”

My Opinion:

I know you’re not going to like my answer, but now’s NOT the time to worry about your love handles.

Although certain abdominal exercises are safe during pregnancy, I would make sure you follow the ones in my program ONLY. You need to check for things like abdominal splitting to know if it’s safe for you to work your obliques.

Subscriber Question #4:

“I’m very worried about putting on excess weight, can I still do my 1-hour a day workout consisting of Body Combat, dancing and running?”

My Opinion:

The general rule regarding exercise during pregnancy is that you CAN continue to do what you were doing pre-pregnancy as long as you lower your intensity to a moderate level.

I’m not quite sure what Body Combat is, but if it’s high impact (jumping) and aggressive (hitting), I’d recommend you trying something else. Exercises like the elliptical machine, low impact aerobics, or deep water running (a very tough exercise when you’ve got the right form!) are better choices.

Pregnancy is not the time to try and improve your fitness level – rather it’s the time to maintain your existing level as best you can (remember, you’re now working for two!).

Subscriber Question #5:

“Now that I’m pregnant, can I run up and down my stairs for exercise?”

My Opinion:

Good question! Although almost of us have stairs in our house or office, I wouldn’t recommend it for a workout.

Running up and down stairs umpteen times may seem like an easy exercise to do, but it’s really quite strenuous. You have to be in very good shape – believe me, I used to get my elite athletes to do this!

Choosing stairs instead of an elevator, however, is not a bad idea if you’re just looking for a little activity here and there (just be close to the railing in case you lose your balance!).

For a more suitable “workout” put on your running shoes and go for a brisk walk, or a light jog.

(Please note: all of the following opinions assume that the subscriber has been given the OK to exercise by their health care providers.)

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