Although lugging that burgeoning belly around for 40 weeks seems like a workout in itself, regular exercise can help you enjoy a healthy, pleasant pregnancy. Easy to moderate intensity, low-impact exercises can help you stay fit, flexible and comfortable while you're pregnant–but you do have to take care to exercise within your new limits as a pregnant woman. It's particularly important to pay attention to your core body temperature and make sure that you don't overheat.
How Hot Is Too Hot?
When you're pregnant, KidsHealth says that you don't want your core body temperature to rise above 102 degrees Fahrenheit. If you do start to feel yourself overheat, take action to cool yourself down quickly. An elevated core body temperature that is 102 degrees Fahrenheit or higher for 10 minutes or longer can mean big problems for baby. A fetus still developing in the first trimester may suffer defects of the neural tube from an overheated mom; a more-developed fetus may suffer dehydration. Immediately stop exercising if you have any trouble breathing, feel nauseous or start to vomit. If you spot any signs of dehydration, your skin gets clammy, you develop a headache or you suddenly feel tired, stop your workout. Also stop exercising if you start to feel weak or dizzy.
Benefits of Pregnancy Exercises & What to Do
Exercising throughout your pregnancy can help reduce the likelihood of gaining too much weight. It can also keep you fit and manage uncomfortable pregnancy side effects such as difficulty sleeping, back pain, swelling and headaches. But when you're pregnant, you may not be able to do the exact same exercises that you did before you got pregnant--or at least, not without making a few adjustments to your workout. Always speak with your doctor before trying a new exercise regimen to make sure that it's safe for your particular pregnancy. Choose workouts that are low-impact and won't jar your joints or jostle the baby. Walking is a great workout during pregnancy, as is swimming or biking on a stationary bike. You may also want to try taking a pre-natal yoga class to tone up muscles and relax your mind.
Pregnancy Exercise Safety
Pay attention to your core body temperature and your heart rate while you exercise during your pregnancy. The American Pregnancy Association recommends keeping your heart rate below 140 beats per minute. Make sure that you can speak comfortably and aren't gasping for breath while you work out. Avoid high-impact or potentially dangerous exercises--such as tennis or horseback riding where you could be hit in the stomach or fall. And if you have diabetes, high blood pressure or are at risk for pre-term labor, you may need to take extra precautions while exercising or take a break during your pregnancy if your doctor recommends it. Try to exercise for about 30 minutes each day, but slow down your pace and intensity if you feel like you're pushing yourself too hard and have trouble breathing.
Keep Your Cool
To avoid overheating, dress in lightweight clothing while you work out–wear a few layers so that you can strip off a shirt or two when you get too warm. Drink plenty of fluids before and during your workout so that you stay hydrated and cool. And if it's hot and humid outside, stick to exercising indoors instead. Cut your workout short if you start feeling too warm, or slow down your pace until your body temperature drops. If your core body temperature gets too high and you feel yourself overheating, sit down and rest in a cool spot. Take off extra layers of clothes, and sip on cool water to cool yourself. If you feel sick or have any symptoms of heat illness, head to your doctor for a checkup.