How to Design a Prenatal Exercise Routine

Pregnancy is no excuse to avoid exercising unless your doctor advises against it. In normal circumstances, however, physicians recommend that pregnant women participate in aerobic activity at least 4 times per week. In the third trimester, when the expected delivery date approaches, some physicians will recommend a reduction in exercise to avoid a premature delivery. There are many reasons why exercising during a pregnancy is advisable. Women who exercise may have a lower occurrence of gestational diabetes, complications associated with delivery or excessive fatigue during childbirth.


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    Consult a physician before you begin any prenatal exercise routine to determine whether or not it is safe for you to participate in an exercise program. Your doctor will most likely evaluate your medical history, your current physical health and stamina and the state of your current pregnancy to determine whether or not exercise is recommended.
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    Research various types of prenatal exercises to determine which parts of your body can benefit from various exercises.
    • Increasing the muscles of the legs and abdomen can be very beneficial for pregnant women.
    • As the stomach swells, the muscles of the back and legs will begin to ache. Stretching the back muscles and the knees can help to reduce some of the swelling and inflammation associated with pregnancy.
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    Write out a simple exercise routine plan and set reasonable goals for yourself. Pregnancy can be a busy time for many expecting mothers. There are many tasks that must be completed, and doing so is often difficult for pregnant mothers with impeded mobility. Even just a small, 30 minute exercise routine completed every other day can have incredible effects on the health of a pregnant woman.
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    Combine aerobic and weight training exercises. A combination of both aerobic and strength training will help pregnant women to build muscle while reducing excess fat.
    • Weight gain is common during a pregnancy, but many women gain too much weight during the 9-month period and have difficulty shedding the extra pounds after childbirth.
    • Some fetuses can be negatively affected by dramatic increases in the body fat percentage of the mother, making a combination of aerobic and strength training even more important.
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    Perform stationary exercises or swimming pool exercises to avoid placing unnecessary strain on the abdomen and the womb. Exercises such as jogging or sports such as tennis and basketball may cause too much jostling around the abdomen. A swimming pool or a stationary bike will help a pregnant woman burn extra calories without straining the womb and increasing the likelihood of a premature birth.
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    Keep a journal that details your overall energy levels, the foods you eat, your sleeping habits and the exercises that you complete so that you can see how your body is responding to a new exercise routine.
    • If you find that your journal reveals exercise to be causing additional fatigue rather than providing you with additional energy, cut back on the intensity of your workouts.
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    Start stretching and resistance in early pregnancy. Stretching and resistance exercises such as yoga and Pilates may safely be attempted by pregnant women during the first two trimesters of pregnancy. During the third trimester, stretching the abdomen and the muscles of the waist is not recommended, as it can sometimes result in preterm labor.
    • Consider purchasing exercise DVDs that have been specifically designed to provide an effective workout to pregnant women, which will not increase the chance of a premature delivery.
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    Consume healthy and varied foods while engaging in a consistent exercise routine. As the body consumes more calories through physical activity, the woman's body will require an increase in calories to make up for the calories burned. Remember, too, that a woman who is pregnant is consuming calories for her own body and the body of her unborn child.


  • If you are unused to physical activity, begin slowly at first. Try stretching exercises and low-resistance routines such as yoga or Pilates and work up to more strenuous physical activity. Remember to breathe regularly during physical activity: the fetus gets its oxygen from the inhalations and exhalations of the mother.
  • Carefully monitor your heart rate during aerobic exercise to ensure that you aren't overexerting yourself. A heart monitor attached to your upper arm can deliver an audible pulse so that you can easily monitor your heart rate.


  • High intensity movement or strenuous exercise may trigger a premature delivery in the last trimester of a pregnancy. If you feel uncomfortable when you are exercising, you should trust your body and lower the intensity of your physical activity.
  • It is not safe for everyone to exercise during their pregnancy. If you have experienced any of the following conditions, exercise may actually be detrimental to your pregnancy: bleeding or spotting from the vagina, previous miscarriages, weak cervix strength, a history of early labor or low placenta.
  • If a physician prescribes bed rest to lower the risk of an early pregnancy, it is important to avoid all forms of physical activity. Early pregnancies can cause serious complications in the birth and the lives of the newborn child.
  • Women who are carrying multiple babies must take extra precautions when creating a prenatal exercise routine. Multiple babies in the womb can increase the likelihood of an early delivery.
  • Pregnant women should avoid all contact sports and activities where falling is a possibility. Horseback riding, skiing, wrestling, football, baseball, softball, or soccer are all activities which can be potentially dangerous for pregnant women.
  • Exercises which require any repetitive trauma or jostling of the abdomen including hopping, jumping, skipping, or bouncing can increase the likelihood of a premature birth. Similarly, exercising in hot and humid weather, twisting the waist, stretching the abdomen, and bending at the waist can also cause a premature birth.

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Categories: Pregnancy