Safe Pregnancy Exercise: Must-Know Fitness Tips for the First Trimester & Beyond

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Exercise Benefits for You During Pregnancy

“Physical exercise is a great way to beat morning sickness symptoms and help bring some ‘normalcy’ to life during changing times,” says Skoog. Regular exercise can help you handle the pain and endurance required of labor and set you on the right path to bounce back quickly after giving birth. Exercise during pregnancy should never be about losing weight though, instead you should focus on feeling stronger and healthier.

ACOG lists many benefits of exercising during pregnancy:

  • Helps reduce backaches, constipation, bloating, and swelling
  • May help prevent or treat gestational diabetes
  • Increases your energy
  • Improves your mood
  • Improves your posture
  • Promotes muscle tone, strength, and endurance
  • Helps you sleep better

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Exercise Benefits for Your Baby-to-Be

You’re probably well aware that exercising has cardiovascular benefits for you, but did you know it has cardiovascular benefits for your developing fetus? Studies suggest that regular aerobic exercise can be good for developing babies in the womb and may even lead to healthier lives after birth. One study found that being exposed to exercise in the womb can help improve involuntary nervous system function like the heart, blood pressure and breathing rate. So while you’re jogging, swimming, or dancing, even if your baby-to-be isn’t doing the same inside the womb, she may be getting the same types of training benefits that you are.

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Exercises You Can Do During Pregnancy

For the most part, you can continue doing the same exercises you did before you were pregnant during pregnancy, as long as the exercise feels good says Skoog. If you did it before you were pregnant, it’s probably safe to still enjoy it (except for higher-risk activities like boxing or snowboarding).  Also, you should work within your current level of fitness. Pregnancy is not the time to start shaving seconds off your fastest 5K time or try a high-intensity interval training boot camp for the first time. To be on the safe side, use the talk test when you’re working out during pregnancy — you should be able to talk while you’re exercising, rather than being totally breathless.

Prenatal yoga, weight training, walking, aerobics, cycling, swimming, dancing, and even running are all healthy workout options for women during pregnancy. However, you should always listen to your body — a workout that felt good yesterday, might not feel so great today. This can be especially true during the first trimester when morning sickness and exhaustion are commonplace.

So what if you don’t have a gym membership and you never took up a sport. Does that mean you can’t start a healthy exercise regime now that you’re pregnant. No! While you shouldn’t take up a strenuous sport or start training for a 10K, there are plenty of safe pregnancy exercises for beginners, too. Walking, prenatal yoga, low-impact aerobics, swimming and cycling are particularly good choices if you’re just getting started. You may also want to consider hiring a certified prenatal personal trainer to help you get started, create a program for you and keep you safe and motivated all the way through your ninth month.

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