Women's Exercise Guidelines: First, Second & Third Trimesters
Pregnancy: Exercise Guidelines
An enormous amount of benefit can be realized by maintaining your exercise pattern and program throughout your pregnancy. You may have noticed significant symptoms common in the first trimester of your pregnancy. Maintaining the regularity of your exercise can improve your general condition as well as reduce many risk factors associated with pregnancy. Continuing your regular exercise can alleviate many of the most common early pregnancy symptoms like physical fatigue, emotional stress, and morning illness. In fact, one of important benefit of exercise during pregnancy is its ability to reduce common stress. In common, most women in their first, second, third or higher pregnancies report stress related symptoms. Reality – even a “normal” pregnancy can be stressful.
Throughout your pregnancy, you will be coping with additional fears, stresses, and physical limitations. Your feelings, fears, and expectations about changes in your body, lifestyle, family, and social habits will all take precedence in the short term. Hormonal changes throughout your pregnancy, but specifically in your first trimester, will feel at times dramatic. The obvious coping mechanism will be to become as emotionally, physically, and spiritually strong as you can be.
Exercise Guidelines for Women In The First, Second & Third Trimester of Pregnancy
Obviously exercise schedules are based on your limitations, goals, and specific needs related to the overall health of you AND your unborn baby(s). The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), as well as the American Society for Obstetrics and Gynecology (ASOG), recommends that normally healthy pregnant women may continue an already-established exercise regimen. Exercising three to four times a week will help you improve your strength, stabilize your basal metabolic rate, reduce stress, fight fatigue, and stabilize your emotions. Appropriate exercise can be good for your baby, also. The benefits of exercise during pregnancy, including improved cardiovascular function, improved attitude and mood, easier and less complicated labor, quicker recovery, and improved fitness.
What Precautions and Types of Exercise Can I Perform While Pregnant?
There are many consideration to employ when beginning or continuing exercise while you are pregnant. We place Safety #1. Please note the following ACSM advised precautions and guidelines to consider when evaluating or planning your pregnancy exercise program:
Safety: As changes in weight distribution occur, balance and coordination maybe affected. Exercise programs should be modified if they pose a significant risk of abdominal injury or fatigue as opposed to relaxation and an enhanced sense of well-being. Until more information is available, exercising in the supine or prone positions should be avoided after the first trimester.
Environment: Temperature regulation is highly dependent on hydration and environmental conditions. Exercising pregnant women should ensure adequate fluid intake before, during and after exercise, wear loose-fitting clothing, and avoid high heat and humidity to protect against heat stress, especially during the first trimester.
Growth and Development: The pregnant woman should monitor her level of exercise and adjust her dietary intake to ensure proper weight gain. If pregnancy is not progressing normally or if vaginal bleeding, membrane rupture, persistent pain or chronic fatigue are noted, exercise should be stopped until a medical evaluation has been completed. Also, if regular contractions occur more than 30 minutes after exercise, medical evaluation should be sought. This may signify pre-term labor.
Modality: Weight-bearing and non-weight-bearing exercise are thought to be safe during pregnancy. Improved maternal fitness is a well-known benefit of non-weight-bearing exercise such as swimming and cycling. Weight-bearing exercises are similarly beneficial as long as they are comfortable. Swimming and stationary cycling are excellent non-weight-bearing exercises, and may be recommended. Walking, jogging and low-impact aerobics programs are good choices when weight-bearing exercise is to be considered. Heavy weightlifting, or similar activities that require straining, are to be discouraged. Bicycle riding, especially during the second and third trimesters, should be avoided because of changes in balance and the risk of falling. Exposure to the extremes of air pressure, such as in scuba diving and high altitude exercise in non-acclimatized women, should be avoided.
Intensity: Pregnancy is probably not a time for serious competition. For women who are continuing their regular exercise regimen during pregnancy, exercise intensity should not exceed pre-pregnancy levels. The intensity of exercise should be regulated by how hard a woman believes she is working. Moderate to hard is quite safe for a woman who is accustomed to this level of exercise.
Exercise: A healthy woman with a normal pregnancy may either continue her regular exercise regimen or begin a new exercise program during pregnancy. For your particular exercise prescription and its duration, check with your physician.
Exercise Caution: Though the practice of regular exercise during your pregnancy is generally safe, pregnant women program should be aware of warning signs. If any of the following symptoms occur, stop exercising and contact your physician: unexplained abdominal pain; uterine contractions lasting 30 minutes once exercising stops; dizziness; insufficient weight gain (<2.2 lbs/month) during the last two trimesters; and vaginal bleeding. Other signs to watch for are decreased fetal activity, visual disturbances, or numbness in any part of the body. For some women, such as those with heart disease, blood clots, recent pulmonary embolism, or for those who have a "high-risk" pregnancy, exercise may not be recommended. In taking the complete medical history, your physician will determine if maternal conditions limit, or exclude, an exercise program.
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