Fitness During Pregnancy

Updated on May 11, 2010
G.G. asks from Minneapolis, MN
15 answers

Is it possible to get in better shape during pregnancy? Please, do not read anything into the question....I'm NOT asking if it's ok to lose weight or diet......I just want to know if you can improve your fitness (strength, muscle tone, etc.) while you are pregnant.

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So What Happened?

Thanks to all of you for your comments. This is my third pregnancy and I'm not in quite as good of shape as I was with the first two. I did just run in an 8 mile race a few weeks ago (before I was pregnant) but I have no intention of running while pregnant. I am just hoping to do a lot of walking and swimming and also use the pre-natal pilates DVD more often than I did with my other babies! I found out I was pregnant with my other 2 in the fall so it was easy to get into a habit of laying around on the couch in the winter. I'm hoping that the fact that it's almost summer and that I have a 2yo and 4yo that it will be easier to start this pregnancy with a better "fitness" routine.

Thanks again!

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J.M.

answers from Minneapolis on

I too am pregnant and wanting to be in "better" shape, especially for delivery. I know I've fallen out of shape in the first 6 months and worry that I won't have the strength or stamina to get through labor. I plan to go for more walks, and do yoga DVDs, that are both low impact but are movement, sometime that I lacked over the winter.

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M.H.

answers from Atlanta on

Hi G.,

Absolutely! If you are not working out regularly, you should probably start out doing cardio from walking. I've found my MBTs (toning shoes like the ones Reebok and Sketchers have) have enhanced anything I do. I can walk where most have to run to get the workout I'm getting. If you workout regularly you probably KNOW what you are doing with each and every muscle with your body. If you don't, you may need to go through a learning curve and that may not be something you want to do while pregnant. You need to be careful with weight bearing exercises simply because you can overwork or pull muscles that you have just used for the first time with the changes in your body. Whatever you do, start slowly and ask specific questions about everything you try.

God bless,

M.

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D.W.

answers from Indianapolis on

I agree with the responses that say to make sure any fitness plan falls within what your OB/GYN is comfortable with.

A few years ago, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, took a stance on how much weight women should gain during pregnancy. It used to be 20-35 lbs was standard - the shift was dependent upon the mother's initial weight at conception.

I recall a biology class in college (what I ended-up getting my degree in) in which the professor stated the human body so well protects the developing baby that you could actually play a full contact game of basketball and not be too concerned about the baby. I know a Nurse Practitioner that ran 3 miles/day until the day she delivered.

But, to answer your question, it is possible to get into better shape.

Good luck!

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C.J.

answers from Dallas on

FYI: I found the more active I was in terms of fitness & muscle tone, the easier my births were, too!

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L.T.

answers from Chicago on

G.,
You can definitely improve your fitness while pregnant. Depending on how far along you are ask your doctor first what your limits are. There is great pilates and yoga specifically for pregnant women. Weight training and cardio are also great as long as you are watching your body temperature, feeling of fatigue, and making sure you are breathing. I hope this helps.
L.

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J.J.

answers from Omaha on

Absolutely! Be careful with the weights as your increased progesterone level makes your joint more loose. You're more prone to injury.

Around 6 months along during my last pregnancy I took some pilates training at a local gym. I met with a pilates trainer. She adjusted the exercises for me since I was pregnant. I got stronger and I felt so much better. I HIGHLY recommend pilates when pregnant. It really helped my core muscles start working together again.

Also, I wouldn't pick up a new vigerous exercise; however, start walking more and farther. Also, if you have a gym, get on the elicptical or stair master. Those are safe and great cardio exercises.

Good Luck and Congratulations!

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D.P.

answers from Pittsburgh on

I believe so. You can certainly do low impact aerobics and cardio (walking) which will improve your fitness and endurance!

A.G.

answers from Pocatello on

Yes and no. The rule is you can do whatever you were doing before you got pregnant. So if you already run 3 miles everyday or whatever you can keep that up but most doctors recommend not starting anything new once you are pregnant. With my first pregnancy I started working out about 2 months before I got pregnant because I wanted to stay in shape but it backfired on me. I got placenta previa at about 10 weeks which can be caused from doing too much for your body while pregnant. I was put on bedrest for a while and then had to be so careful for my whole pregnancy. Like no exercising or lifting anything over 25 pounds. So just be careful. Do try to do too much strength training if your body isn't used to it.

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V.G.

answers from Portland on

Hi G.!
I'm pregnant with my second, and currently in the process of getting in better shape also!
So far my "exercise" is playing at the park and climbing with my son, walking and pushing him in his stroller, and doing preggo yoga 3-4 times a week.
Not only am I in better shape than before this pregnancy, I FEEL better too! :)
Good luck, take it easy at first and work your way into a fun routine. :)

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A.B.

answers from Los Angeles on

Yes! You CAN do this. With my second pregnancy, I was feeling like if I didnt increase my strength and endurance, I was going to be exhausted trying to lift two children, and all of the baby gear, etc. At the time, I was in the first trimester and very tired. And I could hardly carry around my first child (at that time, my first child was only 9 months old) At the time I was very surprised to be pregnant again, and I hadnt lost the baby weight from the first baby. I had just stopped nursing. I was just overwhelmed.

I joined a mommy & me fitness group which was great. I went 3 days a week. I gained muscle tone in my arms and back. I didnt do ANY ab works (no sit ups, no push ups). I jogged a tiny bit, but mostly walked fast while pushing my first child in the stroller. I did squats and some other leg lifts, etc.

It not only helped me to not gain too much weight. But once the baby was out, I was healthy, and able to manage two babies. Now my children are 9 months and 25 months. And best of all, I weigh 132 pounds, and I have lots of muscle tone and I am able to manage two children with lots of energy. Keep moving. Ask your OB what you can do. It will make such a difference!

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A.L.

answers from Minneapolis on

Absolutely! You should consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program because every pregnancy is different, but in most, healthy, "normal" pregnancies you can do light cardio and strength training exercises. A safe and healthy amount (as per your doctor's reccommendations) can actually help ease delivery and shed that pregnancy weight quicker post-pregnancy.

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D.N.

answers from Chicago on

It is not recommended to start a program while pregnant but you can improve fitness by walking and maybe light hand weights. It all depends on what you did before you got pregnant. Your doctor could tell you what to avoid based on your fitness level and condition.

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D.A.

answers from Minneapolis on

Hi G.,

With so many responses I wouldn't normally respond however, the one piece that is missing in all responses is that the nutrition you feed your body is even far more important to get in better shape (whether you are pregnant or not) than the exercise. If you work your body harder than normal but aren't feeding it properly you are actually going to have the reverse effect of what you are trying to achieve. Especially, being pregnant you need to make sure that you get the proper amount of protein for you your body - this will help you to maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy, keep your muscles built up so that is easy to take off your weight after pregnancy and also will help maintain your energy levels - since you already have 2 young kids it is even more important for you to be able to maintain your energy! I am a personal wellness coach - I would be happy to do a body scan for you so that you know your bodies protein and caloric requirements if you would like. Feel free to contact me at [email protected]____.com and we can set something up. Good luck!!

M.R.

answers from Rochester on

Definitely!!! Start out by maintaining your pre-pregnancy routines at the very least (walking, jogging, whatever you were already doing). Make sure your doctor is okay with different activities and you follow any recommendations. You probably don't want to start a running program if you weren't already following one, but you can definitely start up with some weight-bearing strength training (using your body weight and/or light handweights, etc.). Stability balls are great and will also feel nice when you are further along. There are a lot of good pre-natal workouts (haven't tried them myself, but they are with reputable fitness professionals). I think Denise Austen has one that covers pre and post workouts and each trimester (you can mute her if you find her much too perky). :) Pregnancy is an excellent motivator to work on this, which will also help you maintain your blood pressure, lower your risk of gestational diabetes, and help you be more fit for labor and have more energy for your baby afterwards. Sometimes a fast walk made me feel better than a nap. :) Exercising regularly now will also help with the aches and pains later on, especially in your back.

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E.B.

answers from Duluth on

I have wondered the same thing. They always say DON'T diet or lose weight when you're pregnant, but that's always frustrated me: when I'm pregnant is when I DON'T have weird, sweet cravings, when I can control my portions, and when I have motivation for exercise! I think the fear is that you'll jeopardize the baby--not giving it sufficient nutrients--if you overdo. That said, I'm just pregnant now, and am planning to ask my doctor exactly that question. I also have runner friends who ran through pregnancy, but I also know that most of them quit by the time they were into their 7th/8th month. Running can be really hard on the ligaments that are in your belly and, while some people do run the full 9 months, I've heard that's not necessarily recommended. Swimming, walking, other gentle exercise--definitely, just not high impact running.

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