The most important reasons to exercise during pregnancy are:
Exercise is important for pregnant women for the same basic reasons it's important for everyone else: It promotes general health and well-being. In addition to contributing to quality of life, both are key to maintaining a healthy, full-term pregnancy.
The ideal heart rate for an exercising pregnant woman is around:
A good increased heart rate during pregnancy is 120 beats per minutes. If it goes above 140, you should take it easy until it drops back down.
A healthy exercise frequency for a pregnant woman is:
Just like with a non-prenatal regimen, the goal is to stress your body regularly enough to stay in shape but give your body enough of a break to recover between sessions. When pregnant, aim for less stress and more recovery time -- your body is already working hard 24/7.
Examples of types of exercise to avoid when pregnant include:
When pregnant, it's best to avoid the possibility of overheating and any activity that could lead to a hard forward fall, both of which can cause complications.
Conditions that might make vigorous exercise dangerous for a pregnant woman include:
The strain associated with exercise can increase the risk of complications associated with preeclampsia, or pregnancy-related high blood pressure, and regular vaginal bleeding, which can indicate an increased possibility of pre-term labor or pregnancy loss, among other issues.
A pregnant woman risks complications if she sustains a body temperature of:
Studies have shown that raising the body temperature above 102.5 degrees F, especially during the first trimester, can increase the risk of certain birth defects.
A woman's heart rate is affected by pregnancy because:
A pregnant woman's heart has to pump a higher volume of blood, which carries the extra oxygen needed by the fetus.
If a pregnant woman starts to feel faint during exercise, she should:
Immediately stop exercising and rest. Faintness during exercise can indicate an oxygen deficiency that would affect both mom and baby.
In the third trimester, a pregnant woman should avoid exercise that involves:
Lying flat on the back can compress the vena cava, a main artery, reducing blood flow to the fetus.
If a pregnant woman did not have an exercise routine prior to pregnancy, she should:
Because exercise is so healthy but can also be a dramatic strain for those who don't already have a well-established regimen, it's important for a pregnant woman, whose body is already under stress, to keep exercise very light if she's just starting out.
Pregnancy might mean extra indulgence when it comes to sweet treats and cravings, but it's still important to stay active when you're expecting. That doesn't mean lacing up your sneakers and hitting the track for 100-meter sprints, though! Test your exercise smarts with this quiz.
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