Exercise is one of the most crucial factors in remaining healthy during pregnancy. It is, however, also one of the most sensitive. Many prominent elements of general fitness regimens are highly inappropriate during pregnancy, so it is wise to take extra caution. You’ve heard that it is important to exercise during pregnancy, so how do you know which exercises are safe, and which ones to avoid? Read on to learn about some of the dangerous exercises to avoid, and specific movements to stay away from:
Crunches & Other Abdominal Work
Ab exercises are common elements of most modern fitness programs. However, it is ill-advised to perform any sit-up-like maneuvers during pregnancy for obvious reasons. The most common abdominal exercises—crunches, leg raises, and sit-ups—are typically done purely for aesthetics, providing little functional benefit. As such, women lose very little in foregoing these exercises entirely throughout the term of their pregnancy.
Intense Lower Body Weightlifting
Intense lower body weightlifting, such as squatting and deadlifting, is common in exercise programs like P90X and in most exercise programs developed by experienced personal trainers. While excellent tools for the general population, such exercises are inappropriate during pregnancy. They put excess stress on the spinal cord and thoracic cavity, including the abdomen, and can have potentially adverse effects on blood pressure. Doctors such as perinatologist Dr. Gilbert Webb recommend employing less intense exercises, such as lunges or air squats, as replacements.
High-Intensity Interval Training
High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, is a popular exercise paradigm that calls for trainees to alternate bouts of extremely intense physical activity, such as sprints or plyometrics, with less intense activity, such as walking or jogging. Such an exercise paradigm places excessive stress on the body and drastically alters nutritional requirements. Pregnancy can be sufficiently hard on the body, making the addition of stressors that come from HIIT an unwise exercise choice.
Distance Running & Sprinting
Pregnancy does not by nature preclude the possibility of distance running or sprinting. It is, however, wise for pregnant women to invest in high-quality running shoes and to keep the distances they run or the intensity of their sprints moderate, relative to that which is typical for their workouts. This is to reduce stress on the knees in the event of rapid weight gain, and, more importantly, to reduce the body's need to divert important resources to recovery and maintenance following workouts.
It is important to remain active during pregnancy, but equally crucial to remain active in the right way. High-intensity exercises that demand significant resources be directed to recovery and those that place excess stress on the body are to be avoided. Exercise programs that incorporate adapted forms of yoga, swimming, and cycling, however, are healthy alternatives that are offer both sufficient intensity and a welcome break from the tedium of more typical routines.
Also read: Getting Active With a Baby On The Way
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