Can I keep exercising throughout my pregnancy, and how much? I am an avid exerciser.

Can I keep exercising throughout my pregnancy, and how much? I am an avid exerciser.

Answer: You may not need to make any changes until late in the pregnancy, with the exception of avoiding contact sports, exercises that cause problems with balance and lying on your back after the first trimester. Many athletes and experienced exercisers continue to exercise throughout their pregnancies with a few modifications and some simple guidelines in mind.

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Years ago one of the leading obstetrics organizations recommended that pregnant women exercise for no more than 20 minutes at a time and at low to moderate intensity. Needless to say, a lot of pregnant athletes were unhappy. Several studies have been done since then which have shed some light on the effects of exercise on a growing baby. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggests certain exercises such as walking, cycling, swimming, Low-impact or water aerobics that avoid jarring motions, and the treadmill as great choices for cardio exercise.

Running is acceptable for those who were used to it before pregnancy and who have permission from their doctor.

You may have to shorten or split your workout as the pregnancy progresses and you find that you have less energy. Don’t forget your 5 to 10 minute warm-up and cool down when you exercise. Here are some warning signs from ACOG that you need to stop exercising and call your doctor:

  • Dizziness or feeling faint
  • Increased shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Muscle weakness
  • Calf pain or swelling
  • Uterine contractions
  • Decreased fetal movement
  • Fluid leaking from the vagina or vaginal bleeding

Here is a workout routine for pregnant women designed by the exercise experts at the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

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