Exercise when you are pregnant, but be careful.
Question: I am about 12 weeks pregnant and I am not sure if I should still be jogging and weight lifting? What type of exercise should I be doing?
Answer: You have asked the right person. I have done my research and have experienced exercise during pregnancy before.
I commend you for exercising during your pregnancy. You will benefit from remaining active. By staying fit, you will not gain more weight than what is recommended (25 to 35 pounds) and will have an easier time getting that weight off and keeping up with your new little one.
Exercise also is great for your cardiovascular and respiratory system.
The type and length of exercise is highly dependent on what shape you were in before getting pregnant and at what point in the pregnancy you are at. In the first trimester (first 12 weeks), you should be able to continue with most types of exercise including jogging and weight lifting as usual. However, you should begin avoiding contact sports that could cause trauma to your body and baby.
There are many things you should look out for. You need to watch that you do not get overheated (hyperthermia).
According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, you should not have your core temperature get above 100.4 degrees F. You also need to drink more water to hydrate your body. As your pregnancy progresses you will notice other things such as a lack of balance and coordination. The hormone progesterone can make your joints and ligaments more lax and more susceptible to injury. This is getting your body ready for labor. So be careful not to do anything dangerous that requires fine balance. You also want to avoid doing exercise in the supine (on your back) position as this can restrict blood flow and oxygen to the fetus after the first trimester.
You will feel more exhausted when exercising because your cardiac output (the amount of blood going through your heart) will increase from 30 percent to 50 percent, and your resting heart rate will increase by 7 beats per minute in the first trimester and by 15 bpm in the second and third.
Your blood volume also is increased to support the baby, so you will notice you will breathe harder and your heart will pound faster. Do not exercise to exhaustion. Stop if you feel faint, dizzy or light-headed.
Some women can jog later in their pregnancy than others,but I would say that you can get a quality workout in by walking fast at an incline.
The ACOG recommends either stopping lifting weights by the third trimester or only lift very lightly to keep from increasing your blood pressure too much. Try light weights or incorporate prenatal yoga. Try walking, swimming, cycling and other low-impact activities that keep the blood flowing, but do not involve jarring motions. Make sure you eat about 300 calories more a day than you were before getting pregnant.
November 28, 2005
Shannon Simmons is a fitness coach at Courthouse Athletic Club. Simmons has a bachelor's degree in exercise science and sports medicine and is a certified personal trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine.