Before you begin exercising, remember that it is important to talk to your doctor. If you are already exercising, you may be able to keep up with your routine and adapt it as you grow. Keep your heart rate under 160 beats per minute and avoid overheating, especially in your first trimester.
Kegel Exercises: Many women benefit from Kegel exercises before, during, and after pregnancy. Kegel exercises are for strengthening the vaginal muscles. Pregnant women who perform these exercises find that it brings an easier birth, and tones them for after their delivery. To find the correct muscles, pretend that you're trying to stop urinating. You can squeeze those muscles for a few seconds, then relax, repeating every few seconds. Ask for more information from your doctor or midwife. The best thing about these exercises is that they can be done at any time, and without others knowing around you. Make sure you breathe when practicing these exercises. Do not hold your breath.
Swimming: Many doctors and fitness professionals say swimming is the safest exercise for pregnant women. Swimming keeps your body tone without weight and stress to your joints. When swimming you are raising your heart rate and enjoying a safe cardiovascular exercise that is not likely going to cause overheating. Just stay away from scuba diving, due to the pressure changes involved.
Walking: Walking is very beneficial because it is safe on your body. It is easier on your knees than running, and can be easily worked into your schedule. Start slowly and be sure you stretch well before hand. Set realistic goals, and wear good shoes to decrease the risk of falling or pressure on your feet.
Running & Jogging: Usually if you are in a habit of running, you can continue running. However, if you are not in the habit of running, you may want to take up another form of exercise, due to the fact that running takes some time to get used to. It is better to do brisk walking 30 to 60 minutes daily than to begin with running. Make sure you're well hydrated, avoid over-heating yourself, and wear good shoes.
Bicycling: The best thing about biking is that the bike supports your weight, so there is less stress on your body. A stationary bike is a great idea for exercise because you have less of a chance of falling. As you grow and your center of gravity is shifting, the danger of falling on a non-stationary bike is increased. As your abdomen grows, it can put a lot of stress on your back. Start slowly and do not over-exert yourself.
Stair Climbing Machines: The machines pose a small, but present risk of falling, but side rails provide balance support. Stair climbing is an excellent way to raise your heart rate.
Yoga: Yoga has a long time standing reputation for relieving the stress and pressure in your body. Most forms of Yoga will be safe for you and your baby, as long as they are not the more rigorous forms. Some Yoga instructors offer special classes for pregnant women. Avoid lying flat on your back, and try not to over stretch.
Aerobics: If you are already an aerobics participant, you will most likely be able to continue, however, if aerobics are a new activity for you, it may be a good idea to start with something else. Keeping your balance can sometimes be difficult, so you'll want o be careful as you grow. Taking a class specially designed for pregnant women is a good idea. Most health clubs offer them. Do not do exercises where you are lying flat on your back, or over stretching your body.
Dance: The best thing about exercising by dance is that you can do it by yourself in your home, or at a gym that offers special classes for pregnant women. As long as you don't do moves that involve a lot of spinning, leaping, and jumping, you're in the clear to dance your heart away.
Exercises to Avoid
Skiing: Although cross-country skiing is a fairly safe sport for pregnant women, there is a risk of falling. Downhill skiing poses a severe risk of falling and is not recommended while pregnant.
Water Skiing: Water skiing poses the threat of significant impact and is very dangerous for pregnant women, especially in the second and third trimester.
Horseback Riding: Riding a horse involves a lot of jolts and quick movements, which can really hurt you and your baby. There is also a risk of falling, which you want to avoid. Horseback riding will be something you can enjoy after your baby is born.
Any Time You're Exercising
Don't wear tight clothes, but do wear a good sports bra that will give you good support. Wear shoes that have good support and are not slippery, so you won't fall. Breathe deeply, drink a lot of water, and remember to keep your heart rate under 160 beats per minute. Avoid lying on your back and doing anything with jerking motions.
Stop exercising if you have any vaginal bleeding, dizziness, faintness, and shortness of breath, contractions, or nauseous feelings.
Reprinted with permission from American Pregnancy Association