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How to Exercise and Stay Healthy During Pregnancy


Patients ask me daily about what is healthy in regards to exercise and weight gain during pregnancy.

For most women, exercising while pregnant is completely safe and is recommended to help control weight gain, relieve constipation, minimize the risk of gestational diabetes and help uplift mood and energy levels.

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Pregnant women are now exercising as frequently as non-pregnant women, and there have been some welcome changes over the past 25 years in terms of what degree of exercise is suggested. The old mantra to maximize your exercise intensity by limiting your heart rate to 140 beats per minute was abandoned nearly 30 years ago. Unfortunately, too many medical providers still repeat it.

[Read More: Better Body After Baby? It’s Possible!]¬†

The current recommendation is to exercise moderately at least 30 minutes per day. You should judge the maximum intensity by your ability to have a conversation. Hydrating well before exercise and absolutely avoiding any contact sports are important.

Tips for exercising during pregnancy:

1. First confirm with your doctor that it's safe for you, taking into account your personal medical history and current health. Exercise for at least 30 minutes per day.

2. Great daily exercises for pregnant women include walking, swimming, prenatal yoga and Spinning.

3. Stay away from contact sports and sports in which there's a high risk of falling or injuring the abdominal area -- and absolutely no horseback riding, scuba diving or downhill skiing.

4. Stay well-hydrated and drink water before, during and after. It's important for pregnant women to increase hydration to at least 10 eight-ounce glasses per day.

Pregnancy is a very unusual time; your body changes faster than at any other point in your life. Many women struggle with their weight, and focusing on putting on a lot weight during  pregnancy is a big shift from pre-pregnancy.

It's important to remember that a pregnant woman will lose about 25 pounds after the body has readjusted from the birth. Consequently, if you have a normal pre-pregnancy weight, the recommendation is for you to gain a total of 25 to 35 pounds.

If, on the other hand, you are underweight you should gain 28 to 40 pounds to have a healthy pregnancy, and if you are overweight, you only need to gain 15 to 25 pounds. After the pregnancy is over, many overweight women will end up weighing less than they did before.

A good rule of thumb is that exercising daily and eating healthy will usually ensure optimum weight gain.

--Dr. Rydfors

Readers -- Did you exercise during your pregnancy? How did you alter your workout? What types of exercises did you do? Did you have a target weight during your pregnancy? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Dr. Jan Rydfors is a Silicon Valley-based board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist (OB/GYN) specializing in fertility and high-risk pregnancy. He is the co-founder and Chief Medical Advisor of EmbraceHer, creators of the popular Pregnancy Companion app: The Obstetrician's Guide to Pregnancy.

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