A guide to the right kind of exercise you must perform when you are pregnant

Women who maintain a regular exercise routine throughout their pregnancy stay and feel healthy. Regular exercise during pregnancy can improve their posture and decrease some common discomforts such as backaches and tiredness. If the women were physically active before their pregnancy, they should be able to continue their activity in moderation. They should not try to exercise at their former level; instead, they should do what’s most comfortable for them.

Women who are pregnant without any major complications should be encouraged to participate in aerobic and strength-conditioning exercises as part of a healthy lifestyle during their pregnancy. Most exercises are safe to perform during pregnancy, as long as it is not overdone and is done with caution. They can safely begin an exercise program during pregnancy after consulting their doctor, but should not try any new, strenuous activity. If the pregnant woman suffers from a medical problem such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes, exercise may not be advisable. In pregnancy-related conditions such as: weak cervix, recurrent miscarriage, previous premature births and history of early labour, low placenta and bleeding or spotting, exercise is not advisable and may be harmful.

The safest and most productive activities are walking, jogging, yoga, swimming, indoor stationary cycling and low-impact aerobics (under the guidance of a certified aerobics instructor). These activities carry little risk injury, benefit the entire body, and can be continued until birth. Sports such as tennis and badminton are generally safe activities, but changes in balance during pregnancy may affect rapid movements. Women who indulge in sports and exercises during pregnancy can continue with their regular exercise or sport, as long as associated risks and any recommended changes are followed by the women. All exercise should include a warm-up and cool-down phase. Stretching exercises are also recommended, but should be done gently due to the increased joint laxity during pregnancy. A few activities are to be avoided during pregnancy like contact sports, high-altitude exertion, including downhill skiing and scuba diving. Avoid exercising in the supine position (lying on back) after the first trimester or 16 weeks gestation. One should change the position of the exercise by performing on the side; sitting or standing is a safe alternative.

In the second and third trimester of pregnancy, activities that involve jumping, frequent changes of direction and excessive stretching should be avoided. Health care providers should be consulted if the pregnant women are not sure whether a particular activity is safe during pregnancy.

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