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A Complete Guide to Pregnancy Health and Fitness

Congratulations! You’ve got a bun in the oven! Once you get over the shock and awe of this incredible life event, the real work starts. You need to do everything in your power to ensure you’re staying fit throughout your pregnancy to remain as healthy as you can. Certainly, pregnancy isn’t the point in life where you should explore new contact sports or start training for that marathon you’ve always wanted to do, or even become super adventurous in the food department. But, there are many ways you can stay healthy and keep your body in shape over the next nine months as long as your doctor approves it. Here is your complete guide to pregnancy health and fitness!

Pregnancy Fitness: Trimester One

If you’ve been pretty active up until this point, then you can probably just carry on with what you’ve been doing. For example, if you were doing strength training and squats prior to becoming pregnant, you can carry on with those. You just don’t want to throw anything new into the mix right now. You may not feel up to exercising, though. It’s no secret that the first trimester is fraught with the pitfalls of morning sickness (more like all day sickness!) and extreme fatigue, but if you can work in physical activity it’s going to work in your favor to help you feel better.

If you’re new to the exercise scene and this pregnancy has motivated you to get healthy, well welcome! Most exercises can be safely done in the first trimester, including aerobic exercise and jogging. You simply need to avoid any contact sports or sports that increase your risk of falling. Save joining that new women’s hockey league until that bun is baked and out of your oven!

The most important thing to remember during this time is that you have to pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you and respect your limits. Lower the intensity of your exercise if that’s what you feel you need to do since pushing yourself will only make you feel worse. Personal trainer Lalo Fuentes, CSCS, suggests keeping your heart rate under 140 beats per minute, which can easily be tracked with your Fitbit or other heart rate monitor.

Pregnancy Fitness: Trimester Two

Let’s get one thing straight: Gaining weight during pregnancy is a good thing. If you’ve been active it can be hard to slow down a bit and letting your body do what it needs to do. But you should listen to what your doctor is telling you when it comes to weight gain since part of that weight gain accounts for a healthy and growing baby. On average, women gain about 30 pounds over the course of the pregnancy, and as you gain weight you’ll need to lessen the intensity of the exercises you’re performing. This is, however, a great time to work on strengthening your lower back muscles, since your back is going to have to support more and more weight as the pregnancy goes on. Deadlifts are a great way to get your hamstrings, lower back and upper back strong. All the muscles you will need to stay healthy.

The good news is that even though you’re growing, you can still keep moving. You may find at this point that sports such as cycling and running are becoming a bit more uncomfortable, so just remember to listen to your body and go with exercise that feels good. Walking is a great exercise at any point in your pregnancy!

Pregnancy Fitness: Trimester Three

Can you see the light at the end of the tunnel? Well, the arrival of your little bundle of joy is fast approaching, but you’re probably feeling great since you’ve been exercising and eating well throughout your pregnancy, right?

At this point in the pregnancy, you may notice that any activity that involves bouncing or jumping will be uncomfortable. That belly literally has a mind of its own at this point, so make sure you’re being mindful of how it is changing your center of gravity and throwing off your balance. Your risk of falling increases in the last trimester, so stick to exercise that is comfortable such as strength training, yoga, swimming, walking, water aerobics, or hiking. In fact, according to Los Angeles personal trainer Lalo Fuentes, CSCS, a brisk walk is going to be more beneficial to your overall fitness right now than a slow run. And don’t forget that water exercise will be kinder to your back and your joints, but still allow you to keep your core strong – which will come in handy during delivery.

It will pay to remember to continue some level of strength training for your upper body and core, even at this advanced state of pregnancy. Once the baby is here, you will be doing a lot of carrying and holding on just one side of your body. Sure, your baby will be small, but how used to carrying around an 8 pound sack of potatoes are you up until now? You need to prepare your shoulders, biceps and the rest of your upper body for this task through regular strength training in order to avoid upper back and neck pain as you nurse your child through its earliest days and weeks.

Exercises to Avoid in Pregnancy

So, there is a no-no list for exercise when you’re pregnant. While no one can keep you from doing an activity you enjoy, you have to understand there are risks to certain sports when you’re expecting. You should avoid:

  • Contact sports – As previously mentioned, any sport where you can be knocked down or risk getting hit in the belly needs to be avoided. Rugby can wait a few months.

  • Skiing – This means any type of skiing, both snow, and water. It carries too high a risk of falls and you tend to travel at some pretty fast speeds while doing these activities too. The only exception is cross country skiing, which should be OK in the first two trimesters.

  • Off road cycling – Cycling is generally a safe thing to do during pregnancy until it’s off-road. If that’s the case, then you need to choose the tamest, flattest tracks of land possible to do this activity, but remember the falling risk is high.

  • Scuba diving – Scuba diving involves decompression, and this is unsafe at every point in your pregnancy.

  • Surfing – Yes, you love surfing, but even the most experienced surfer falls and since falling is frowned upon, then this is an activity that you should wait to do until after your pregnancy is over.

Focus on doing other things that are safe for you and your baby during your pregnancy, and get back to the sports on the naughty list once you’re baby has arrived – because then everything is back on the table. Who knows? This opportunity to try some more low impact and relaxing exercise might help you find a new exercise to love and