Pregnancy & Exercise Parameters

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    Significance

    • When you exercise, you increase blood flow to your body and improve circulation. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise also improves your overall muscle strength and may help speed your recovery from labor. Exercise is generally recommended by doctors during a healthy pregnancy.

    First Trimester

    • During the first trimester of pregnancy (up to 13 weeks), you will not look pregnant and may find that you can exercise at close to the level you did before you became pregnant. You should slow down your pace for longer workouts and avoid short bursts that may lead to overexertion. For longer workouts, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends that your core body temperature remains below 101 degrees Fahrenheit. You can check your temperature with an underarm or rectal thermometer. Morning sickness, cramping and fatigue common during the first trimester of pregnancy may make it more difficult to exercise. Limit your workout duration, avoid dehydration at all costs and eat plenty of small snacks while working out to keep nausea at bay.

    Second Trimester

    • Many women feel their best in the second trimester of pregnancy--the morning sickness is gone and you may have more energy, but you are not sporting a massive belly yet. Try to stick to lower-impact exercise such as brisk walking or yoga rather than more intense workouts, again watching that your core body temperature remains below 101 degrees. During the second trimester, after the 20th week of pregnancy you may find that you are very clumsy due to changes in your joints. Watch your step no matter what type of exercise you do.

    Third Trimester

    • As your last trimester of pregnancy progresses, you may find that fatigue, breathing difficulties and the size of your midsection make some types of exercise impossible. Anything that involves sudden bursts of energy such as sprinting or weightlifting should be avoided, as the exertion could possibly trigger early labor. You may find that it is difficult to exercise much, even if you want to, as you get close to your due date. Stick to activities that are relaxing and easy to do, such as gardening, walking, or cleaning in preparation for your new baby's arrival.

    Warnings

    • Moderate exercise is considered beneficial for women experiencing a healthy, normal pregnancy, but you should consult with your doctor about the level of exercise you plan to do. Exercise may not be recommended for women with increased risks of miscarriage or those with diabetes or heart conditions. Follow your intuition when exercising--a two-mile run might be physically traumatic and exhausting to one pregnant woman, while another may be able to run comfortably well beyond that level. Your pregnancy is not a time to set any new records in your workout speed or intensity. Stop immediately if you experience blurred vision, fatigue, chest pain, vaginal bleeding or shortness of breath. Scuba diving is not recommended due to body-pressure changes, while contact sports and downhill skiing should also be limited due to injury risks.

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