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How to Have a Safe Fitness Workout During Pregnancy

written by: Jennifer G • edited by: Angela Atkinson • updated: 10/27/2010

Exercise can help ease some of the discomforts of pregnancy. It can also lead to a shorter labor and smoother delivery. Find out the safe way to exercise while pregnant.

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    Many exercises are safe for pregnant women, including resistance training, flexibility exercises, and aerobics. Every woman and every pregnancy is different, which means a workout should be centered around individualized needs. Pregnant women should consult their doctor before beginning an exercise routine.

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    Precautions

    Pregnant women should not do exercises while lying on their backs. The extra weight from the abdomen can block the flow of blood to the fetus and restrict the heart beat. It is especially risky for pregnant women to exercise on their backs after the first trimester.

    Contact sports are not considered safe for pregnant women. So activities like hockey, soccer, and basketball should be avoided, because there is the potential danger of getting hit by a ball.

    Pregnant women often have difficulty with balance, particularly after the first trimester. This makes them more susceptible to falling. That's why they should not participate in sports that require quick movements such as gymnastics, skating and racket ball.

    Hydration is extremely important for pregnant women, as their bodies require more fluids than usual. Pregnant women should drink 8 ounces of water about 20 minutes before a workout. They should also drink an 8 ounce glass of water at least once every half hour during their workout.

    Pregnant women should not exercise in extreme heat, especially during the first trimester. The extra heat could harm the fetus. The safest time for pregnant women to exercise is either at dawn or dusk. Indoor exercising should be done in a room that's properly ventilated.

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    Safe Exercises

    Stretching exercises are good for pregnant women. They help the muscles relax, which can be very soothing to a pregnant woman.

    The neck rotation can help relieve tightness and tension in the shoulders and upper back. To do this one, relax your shoulders and neck, and lean your head forward. Slowly roll your head to your left shoulder, then to the center, and finally to your right shoulder.

    The thigh shift can help soothe the legs. In a standing position, place one foot about 24 inches in front of the other foot. Then lean forward with your front thigh supporting your weight. Switch sides and repeat this exercise with the other leg. Do this exercise five times on each leg.

    This next exercise can help promote healthy circulation in the legs. Sit in a chair and lift your legs and the lower them while lightly shaking them. Do this for about 2 minutes.

    Other exercises that are safe for most pregnant women include walking, dancing, swimming, aerobics, weight lifting, and riding a stationary bike. Exercise can help reduce the discomforts of pregnancy, lead to a shorter labor and smoother delivery.

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    Resources

    WebMD