exercise do’s and don’ts
There is one guideline that both beginners and superfit moms-to-be should heed: Listen to your body. “Athletes tend to have a ‘no pain, no gain’ mentality. But pregnancy is not a time when you should override what your body is telling you,” says Nordahl. “If you’re feeling worn-out or an exercise feels uncomfortable, you need to be willing to slow down or quit.” Here are some essential guidelines for exercising while pregnant:
- To keep exercising at a high level, find a doctor or midwife who is qualified to advise you about workout issues.
- Consume an extra 300 calories for every hour of exercise.
- Stay hydrated, adding two 8-ounce glasses of water for every hour of exercise. Adequate fluid intake is especially important in the last trimester, since dehydration can trigger premature labor.
- Use the talk test: Slow down if you can’t carry on a conversation while exercising.
- Stop exercising until you see your doctor if any of the following symptoms crop up: pain, fever, bleeding, dizziness, shortness of breath, faintness, back pain, pubic pain, persistent headaches, failure to gain weight, absence of usual fetal movement, sudden swelling, difficulty in walking or abnormally rapid heartbeat after exercising.
Clearly, there are many reasons to keep fit during your nine months, although it isn’t always easy to find exercises that match your abilities. High-level athletes, for example, often find pregnancy workouts woefully easy, while newcomers worry they may be overdoing it. That’s why Nordahl and two members of the Fit to Deliver team — Carl Petersen, a physical therapist who has worked extensively with the Canadian Alpine Ski Team;, and Susi Kerr, a personal trainer who specializes in prenatal fitness — designed the following unique strength-training regimen. It’s tiered to match your particular fitness level. You’ll want to accompany your strength training with some good cardio workouts, too; for that, see “Pregnancy Cardio.”
These exercises are from the book Fit to Deliver: An Exercise Program for You and Your Baby by Karen Nordahl, M.D., Susi Kerr and Carl Petersen (Fit to Deliver, 2000, $22; to order, call 800-511-1225). All were chosen for their adaptability during pregnancy and, because the moves work many muscles at the same time, they give you the biggest bang for your workout buck. You should do the exercises that match your fitness level in the order listed.