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  Pregnancy Fitness Plan

Participating in Aerobics During Pregnancy

Exercising safely is important not only to prevent injury and strain on the body, but also to get good results. Add pregnancy to the exercise equation and you get a level of complexity that no one should face alone. Fortunately, your health care provider can guide you in developing an exercise program – their input is especially important when it comes to aerobic exercise.

You’ve no doubt heard the old saw, “Don’t begin any exercise program without consulting your physician.” This is doubly true for aerobics during pregnancy. It’s essential to remember just what aerobic exercise is – it’s based on raising and holding the heart rate at a fairly high level. This will not only strengthen the heart, but shift a great deal of your biochemistry over to a state of burning energy. This is a great thing when you’re trying to lose weight.

But in the case of pregnancy, there’s a new strain on the body – one that’s growing at a constant rate. Only your doctor can and should guide you in choosing the right level of exercise. Remember that increased heart rate business? Imagine how much of a problem that could be with higher blood pressure or an increased fluid load on a body. Holding the heart rate at a higher rate is hard and tiring – will that be too much for you as a pregnant mother? Your doctor will be the best judge of that, and will tell you what your target heart rate should be.

So what about those jumps, kicks and leaps that are so popular in aerobics classes? They’re the source of much of the strain associated with exercise and are generally off limits during pregnancy. For one thing, your center of gravity is shifting and your sense of balance will be different. Secondly, the ligaments and tendons holding your bones and muscles in place are beginning to loosen, making it easier for you to injure yourself during certain aerobic movements. If your doctor clears you for aerobics classes, lean toward step aerobics or water aerobics. The smaller, smoother movements will be less stressful on your body while still giving you the benefits that you’re looking for in an exercise program.

In fact, it might be best to join a class for expectant mothers, but don’t let the name alone be your only guide. Ask to watch the class first. See if they are, in fact, doing the low impact, smooth movements that you need. Check the credentials of the teacher. There are several national organizations are out there that certify instructors, and any instructor on the up and up will be glad to tell you about their qualifications.

Once you’ve been cleared by your health care professional, and you’re happy with the instructor and the class structure, you can get into the specifics – like what you’re going to wear. Follow the Goldilock’s model – make everything just right. Too tight or too loose and you’ll be sorry. In this case, good cross training shoes are a must.

However, there’s a problem with step aerobics classes and it’s one thing that no class or instructor will change. You’re going to get bigger and have more strain on your body as your baby grows. As the strain increases, consider water aerobics – the water will support you and lessen some of that tension.

But be realistic – you may reach a point where any organized exercise plan may be a bit much. As always, let your good judgment and the opinion of your health care provider be your guide. Remember also, that swimming and walking can help keep you fit and keep your endurance level high outside of aerobics classes.

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