A study published in a 2012 edition of “Obstetrics and Gynecology” suggests that women should begin or maintain an exercise program during pregnancy. Previously active pregnant women can engage in more vigorous exercise, while those were inactive should stick with moderate-intensity exercise routines. The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend pregnant women participate in at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise weekly. Moderate-intensity exercise is defined as activity that quickens your breath, creates sweat after about 10 minutes and allows you to talk, but not sing.
Low-impact cardiovascular exercises are generally safe during your entire pregnancy, according to Cleveland Clinic, as long as your doctor gives you the OK. Examples of safe aerobic exercise include walking, biking, swimming and using an elliptical machine. Make sure to drink plenty of water, and avoid exercising to breathlessness or exhaustion.
Resistance exercises that use light dumbbell weights and high repetitions can increase your strength and overall fitness during pregnancy, which can help prepare you for labor and delivery. However, the American Pregnancy Association suggests women with a history of pregnancy complications or miscarriage avoid lifting weights unless their doctor gives them the OK. Never lift heavy weights, strain yourself or hold your breath during resistance workouts.
Attend a prenatal yoga class to reap benefits such as better sleep, reduced anxiety and stress, decreased lower back pain, increased strength and lower risks for preterm labor, according to MayoClinic.com. Prenatal yoga is specifically designed for pregnant women. However, avoid regular yoga classes unless you’ve talked with your doctor, and never participate in a hot yoga class when you’re pregnant.