Being newly pregnant doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to give up your usual exercise routines, including high-impact aerobics. Although you may fear that your growing embryo can “fall out” as you jump and bounce, because of the structure of the uterus, this is a virtually impossible scenario. However, high-impact aerobics do carry a risk of physical injury that can have serious repercussions. Consult with your doctor before engaging in any high-impact exercises.
High-impact exercises consist of activities where both feet leave the ground at the same time. This includes aerobics step courses, running, jogging, jumping jacks and jumping rope. Aerobic activities are beneficial for your health as they improve circulation, improve cardiac function and increase your body’s consumption of oxygen, among other things. All of these benefits are important during early pregnancy.
High-impact aerobics can be dangerous in the first trimester if you are not accustomed to performing these types of exercises. Inexperienced athletes are at increased risk of falling, and injuring joints and ligaments, which can cause permanent damage. Moreover, even experienced athletes should avoid high-impact aerobics during the second and third trimesters. During these later trimesters, your body releases a hormone that causes ligaments of joints to become loose and soft to facilitate delivery. In this loosened state, they become more susceptible to injury.
If your obstetrician advises you to avoid high-impact aerobics, you have a variety of other exercise options. Low-impact aerobics still provide excellent health benefits without the increased risk of injury. The American Pregnancy Association recommends low-impact aerobic exercises such as swimming, stationary cycling, walking, yoga and water aerobics for women in all stages of pregnancy.
Whatever form of exercise you choose to do during early pregnancy, take special safety precautions. Wear shoes appropriate to your sport to lessen your risk of injury. Remember to drink sufficient amounts of water as you exercise, as both overheating and dehydration can be dangerous to your baby. If you become dizzy, nauseated, faint while exercising or experience cramping or bleeding, stop your activity immediately and call your doctor.
- American Pregnancy Association: Recreation and Pregnancy
- Baby Center: Pregnancy Exercise Guide
- "Fit Pregnancy for Dummies"; Catherine Cram; 2005