Pregnancy fitness has many positive affects on the mother and has proven to be instrumental in the overall nine month process. The most common reasons to exercise include the following:
- Improves fitness levels
- Develops strength and endurance
- Relieves back pain and leg cramps
- Reduces stress
- Helps to facilitate labor
- Prevents or helps manage gestational diabetes
- Helps to maintain muscle tone
- Helps maintain habits for losing excess weight after delivery
To follow are pregnancy fitness guidelines by trimester that include a variety of exercise options and recommendations for performance levels.
First Trimester Fitness Guidelines
Exercise for the first twelve weeks of pregnancy can continue at the same level of intensity as pre-pregnancy, provided that the activity is low impact. Types of activities include:
- Strength training or weight lifting
- Walking program
Exercise regularly at least three to four times a week and don’t forget to:
- Warm up 5 to 10 minutes prior to workout.
- Perform specific exercise 20 to 30 minutes at target heart rate.
- Perform cool down and stretching exercises for ten minutes after workout.
- Include a healthy nutritional plan on a daily basis.
- Drink enough water to support exercise and pregnancy needs.
Second Trimester Fitness Guidelines
Exercise and guidelines for the second trimester (weeks 13 through 24) can continue at the same level of intensity as pre-pregnancy and first trimester levels. For safety related reasons, the precautions to follow should be included:
- Do not engage in exercises or techniques that require you to lie flat on your back.
- Do not participate in activities that apply pressure to the abdomen.
- Do not perform bouncy or jerky movements.
- Recognize your limits, and exercise using good judgment.
- Skip positions in all activities that challenge balance.
Third Trimester Fitness Guidelines
Exercise and fitness during weeks 25 to 40, also known as the third trimester, will vary among pregnant women. For this reason, a woman should pay careful attention to the following recommendations:
- Follow all precautions for the second trimester fitness guidelines.
- Reduce amount of weight by half if weight lifting.
- Reduce scheduled workout times to 2 to 3 days per week.
- Change workout levels to 20-25 minute intervals.
- Eliminate all abdomen or stomach impact exercises.
- Hold back on intensity when required.
- Consult your physician if you have any questions regarding your fitness level.
Exercise before pregnancy and during pregnancy can enhance the overall health benefits of the mother and baby. By remaining active throughout pregnancy, a woman can develop the endurance and strength required to put on additional weight and to return to a satisfactory fitness level quickly after childbirth.