Aerobic exercise improves your heart and lung health and can help you burn unnecessary calories. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists emphasizes that aerobics can also prevent gestational diabetes and reduce common pregnancy symptoms, such as backaches and constipation. The organization recommends 30 minutes of aerobics most days each week. Try going for a brisk walk with your dog or a friend or jogging. As you get bigger, you might find that it's harder to move around or that you have joint pain. Water aerobics is an ideal choice because your extra weight is supported in the water. If you have aches and pains, the water can reduce the impact on your joints. Eliot recommends steering clear of exercise that leaves you breathless and winded late in pregnancy unless you've already been doing a regular aerobic routine.
Yoga can help stretch your muscles, improving flexibility, posture and strength. Some pregnant women find the focus on breathing in yoga to be particularly relaxing and may even use yoga techniques during labor. Try a yoga class for pregnant women; however, steer clear of hot yoga during pregnancy. If any yoga routine is painful or leaves you feeling dizzy, try a less-intense version of the pose. "Yoga Journal" points out that in the third trimester, yoga can effectively relieve the cramped feelings many women experience as their body expands, and recommends that full-term pregnant women practice yoga poses that increase bodily openness and improve strength, such as the Hero and Tree poses.
Calisthenics are strength-training exercises that can also improve flexibility and usually require little or no equipment. Exercises such as leg presses, pushups and squats can help tone your muscles and keep your body flexible. Your changing center of gravity and increased body weight can make some calisthenic exercises more challenging, so if you feel any pain while exercising, switch to another calisthenic routine. Avoid doing calisthenics to the point of exhaustion or until you have trouble breathing, because this can deprive your baby of oxygen late in your pregnancy.
Exercises to Avoid
Exercises that carry a risk of falling or a blow to the stomach are not safe during pregnancy. ACOG advises avoiding contact sports such as football, hockey and soccer because of the risk of injury to you and your baby. Diving can also be risky, and sports such as skiing, scuba diving, horseback riding and gymnastics can cause you to fall or throw you off balance. Save these sports for after your baby is born. During the second and third trimesters of your pregnancy, avoid exercises that require you to lie on your back, because these can decrease blood flow to the uterus.