The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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You’ll know you’re working out at a moderate intensity if you can talk in complete sentences. “You should be able to talk, giggle, breathe, walk and have a good time while exercising,” Zaleski says. “If you’re not, you need to slow down.”
Consistently exercising at uncomfortable levels — or working out when you don’t feel good or are overly tired — can be signs of compulsive exercise, which isn’t good for you or your baby. “The key is to listen to your body and make adjustments in your workout according to how you feel,” Zaleski says.
While most women listen to their bodies and slow down naturally, others exercise beyond safe limits: “The compulsion to exercise takes hold so much that [these women] can’t slow down until they’re put on bed rest. Even then, they may not listen and may need to be hospitalized,” says Harvey Dulberg, Ph.D., a sports psychologist in private practice in Brookline, Mass. “They’re risking their own lives and the lives of their babies.”
You must accept your limits, which means that activities such as scuba diving, mountain climbing, downhill skiing and contact sports are out. They increase the risk for pelvic or abdominal trauma for you and the baby.
“Pregnancy is a time to maintain fitness, not increase it,” Zaleski says. “It’s only a break. You will get back to your usual routine.”
The following prenatal workout combines a resistance band with a stick or body bar — perfect tools for maintaining strength and stability throughout pregnancy, according to trainer Lauri Reimer, who designed the workout.
“The resistance band strengthens the muscles, while the stick or body bar stabilizes the body to improve posture,” says Reimer, who teaches pre- and postnatal exercise classes at The Sports Club/L.A. and The Chapman Family Center in Santa Monica, Calif.
While this workout is set on the beach, you can do it anywhere, such as in a park, back yard or living room. “It’ll keep you strong for pregnancy and labor, and could help you regain your prepregnancy fitness level,” says Reimer, who has a 6-year-old daughter. “I’ve definitely seen it happen — not only with myself, but [also] with the women I’ve trained.”
1. Lat Pull–Down Stand with feet hip-width apart, legs straight but not locked, pelvis neutral. Hold one end of the band in each hand above your forehead, palms forward, wrists neutral. Arms should be slightly bent and hands a little wider than shoulders. Press shoulder blades down and back. Pull the band out and down in front of you, bending elbows until the band touches the top of your chest just in front of your shoulders. Slowly straighten arms to starting position. Repeat. Modification: Sit in a chair with your back supported. Strengthens upper back and shoulders.