The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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Can I play tennis throughout my pregnancy?
“There is no official recommendation that specifically addresses racket sports, partly because there have been no good studies,” notes Thomas W. Wang, M.D., director of Primary Care Sports Medicine at MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn, Ill. “Besides the risk of abdominal trauma — if you charge the net and fall, for example — the main problem might be that it becomes difficult to twist at your hips and waist as you enter your third trimester.” To keep your game safe, consider playing less aggressively and playing half-court or doubles.
My biggest fear is that my baby will be born prematurely. Won’t exercising in the last trimester increase the risk?
“Vigorous exercise has not been shown to be a risk factor for preterm delivery,” says Hatch. In fact, there’s some evidence that it reduces, rather than raises, the risk of preterm birth: In a study of 557 women conducted by Hatch, the women who exercised for three to five hours weekly had almost half the risk of preterm delivery as non-exercisers and a significantly lower risk of delivery after their due dates. And in a University of Northern Colorado study of 2,314 women, the group who exercised moderately (up to three times a week for 43 minutes per session at a heart rate of 144 beats per minute) was found to be at no greater risk for preterm labor than the group who was sedentary.
Lisa Simonsen, a personal trainer and owner of Simonsen Says Inc. in New York City, has trained women before and after their pregnancies. She designed the following workout, which emphasizes the butt, arms and legs to keep them fit and shapely for your pregnancy and beyond.
Weights & reps
Upper body. Weights: Use 2- to 6-pound dumbbells. Sets: Do 2–3 sets of 12–15 reps for each exercise listed, resting 30–60 seconds between sets. (Kegels: During your upper-body rest periods, do 10 sets of Kegels, holding each one for 10 seconds.)
Lower body. Weights: Use 1- to 3-pound ankle weights for Exercises #4 and #5 and 5- to 8-pound dumbbells in each hand for Exercise #6. Sets: Do 2–3 sets of 20–25 reps for each exercise listed. Alternate legs for each set, resting in between to switch legs and weight.
1. SHOULDER STRENGTHENER
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, legs straight but not locked. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with arms hanging by your sides, palms facing in, tailbone pointing down so your spine is in a neutral position. Squeeze shoulder blades down and together, then lift arms up and forward to chest height [A]. Open arms wide, using upper-back muscles to open arms out to the sides [B]. Turn palms down, lift slightly upward [C]; then lower arms to your sides. Continue to alternate these movements (1 rep equals the full movement). Note: As pregnancy progresses, sit on the edge of a chair, then all the way back if necessary. Strengthens shoulders, rotator-cuff muscles and upper-back muscles.