Is it safe to exercise during early pregnancy?
This is a difficult question to answer because the same answer doesn’t apply to all women. Ultimately, I believe that your body will tell you how much exercise you can and should be doing and that, often, the early pregnancy symptoms of nausea, vomiting, and tiredness are enough to stop many women doing too much. Even those women who are used to exercising regularly may find that for the first three months they do nothing other than a bit of gentle walking, and that is absolutely fine. I don’t believe in forcing yourself to move around when you are physically exhausted or feeling sick. Indeed, I think this is part of nature’s way of telling you to take it easy. You will feel much more energized as you reach the end of the first trimester, and will find you can start to exercise once again.
However, if you feel up to exercising during the first three months and you did so regularly before getting pregnant, I would advise you to continue doing what you feel comfortable with, albeit at a slower, less intense level.
I would, however, recommend that you give up running, trampolining, or horse riding, as these involve repetitive bouncing. If you regularly go to an aerobics class, tell the instructor you are pregnant and be sure to take it easy.
If you go to the gym, avoid doing abdominal exercises and use lighter weights, as you could damage tendons and ligaments during pregnancy (they become looser in preparation for birth, so you should avoid putting too much pressure on them). Make use of aerobic machines such as rowing machines, treadmills, and bikes, as these do not involve bouncing.
Whatever exercise you choose, be aware of the following: S Don’t get too hot or out of breath.
Don’t let your heart rate go over 140 beats per minute.
Exercise only at a level you feel comfortable with in the early weeks of pregnancy. Don’t worry if you don’t feel like exercising at all.
If you were used to exercising before you became pregnant, keep it up, but at a less intense level.
Don’t do strenuous exercise for more than 15 minutes at a time.
Cool down for the same amount of time at the end.
If you experience any pain, dizziness, or faintness stop at once.
If you don’t exercise regularly, now is not the time to start doing anything other than gentle exercise, such as walking, yoga, or specific pregnancy exercise classes under the supervision of a teacher who understands the physiological changes in pregnancy.
If you are a high-risk pregnancy (for example, you used assisted conception, especially IVF, or have had a previous miscarriage, or are over 35), I would advise you not to exercise at all during the first trimester, just in case.