TOP 10 Healthy Choices for Exercise in Pregnancy

So you or someone you know is pregnant… Congratulations! You know that physical activity is important and key for a healthy pregnancy. So what now? There are so many options; do you know what to choose? Is every exercise safe? NO

The first thing to do before choosing an exercise is to have the Parmed-X for pregnancy completed by your OB-gyn doctor. This form is produced by Health Canada along with CSEP to be the link between your doctor and your fitness professional. It will permit, restrain or contraindict any form of exercise.

Second, if you were previously sedentary, you should wait until the beginning of your second trimester (14th week) to begin an exercise program.

The risks are very high between the 3rd and 8th week of pregnancy. It is the period when the baby’s main organs are being formed.
Also, you may experience discomforts such as fatigue, nausea, headaches…etc. If you were active at least 3 months before conception, you can continue your previous activities but you MUST have the Parmed-X for pregnancy completed because of your new state of health. OK, so you filled your Parmed-X for pregnancy and you are now 14 weeks pregnant, where do you go from here? Here is a TOP 10 list of what is offered as cardiovascular activity. It will explain WHAT is the activity, HOW it is executed, WHEN it should be performed or when to stop the activity, WHY and why not to do this activity.


The center of gravity of a pregnant individual is shifted forward. Stair climbing may add pressure to the lower back if it is not performed with perfect posture. You can perform this exercise anytime during your pregnancy after the 1st trimester. Because of the shift of gravity and the possible backaches, it is one of the least recommended activity on this list.


Although I believe Yoga & Pilates are wonderful and very effective, they appear at number 9 on the list because of their execution in the supine position. Pilates is mostly done on the back involving strength and core exercises. Yoga has different positions that involve bending downwards or awkwardly. With already low blood pressure, it may induce dizziness and other discomforts. If a center offers ADAPTED classes for pregnancy I suggest trying one and seeing how you like it. Yoga & Pilates are becoming very popular and are offered in a lot of health facilities. Videotapes are also very popular.


Number 8 is walking on a treadmill. Don’t mistake walking outdoors and walking on a treadmill. Both are different. One has a surface that is flat and the same throughout the workout and the other has irregularities. As you step outdoors, your feet are in different positions that can help with ankle and feet discomforts and/or pain. Walking is an under-estimated exercise. A pregnant individual can walk at ANY time in her pregnancy. Whether it’s at the beginning or at the end, there are no restrictions. Walking outdoors is free and can be safe almost everywhere.


Most of the aerobic classes can be adapted to suit the pregnant woman. It’s important to avoid bouncy, jerky movements. But, be aware of “low impact”. Low impact doesn’t mean low intensity. Tae-Bo classes are low impact but high intensity. They involve a lot of jerky movements. It is mandatory to advise the instructor of your condition and to ask to demonstrate the proper modifications to suit your condition. There are many choices in class format. Choose smart. You can take classes anytime after the first trimester.


This exercise involves movement without impact. It looks like jogging in a circle. You can perform this exercise anytime after the first trimester. I would recommend elliptical equipment instead of treadmill because of it’s “no impact” feature.


There are many uses for the ball in pregnancy. It is interesting to learn the pain relieving exercises and different positions to prepare for labour and delivery. Using the ball means balance training. It’s very important to NOT execute exercises that can compromise your safety. Make sure that you are never at risk of falling. This type of exercise can be executed anytime after your first trimester. (*It’s a great toy for your kids afterwards!)


The stationary bike is a good suggestion. It is a non-weight bearing exercise and the risks of falling a practically nul. One can get an excellent workout on this type of equipment. Biking outdoors is also a good suggestion although the risks of falling are far greater than stationary. You can start this exercise at the beginning of your second trimester. **Spinning classes can be executed with proper intensity. Inform the instructor of your condition and ask for modifications for your safety.


Tai chi is an ancient martial art form that involves focus, concentration and relaxation through movements. It resembles self-defense moves in slow motion. You can choose Tai chi at anytime during your pregnancy as long as no movement compromise your safety or balance. I like this type of exercise since the pregnant mom needs to work on focus and concentration. Tai chi offers all.


It’s no wonder that this type of exercise is one of the most popular choices of pregnant women. It involves movements in the water sheltered from gravity (for about an hour). It also adds resistance because of the water. I suggest pre-natal aqua-fitness since it is adapted for the pregnant individual. If you choose a regular aqua-fitness class, please advise your instructor of your condition. You can practice this exercise after your second trimester. You can find pre-natal aqua-fitness in your community. **I strongly suggest that “squats” be avoided.


My number one choice is swimming. It is a non-weight bearing exercise and offers a very good cardiovascular workout. One can perform this exercise assisted with a floating object for better support in the water. You can start this exercise after your first trimester. Just like aqua-fitness, you do not feel the effects of gravity and even if you are in the last weeks of your pregnancy, you can perform this exercise with ease.


Who to trust with the priceless treasure in your belly? I strongly suggest that you consult a professional who is certified in pre and postnatal fitness. Most pregnant women have many questions and worries when it comes to fitness and pregnancy. Their doctors are not always available or simply don’t know the answers. That’s when the certified trainer comes in. After consulting the Parmed-X for pregnancy, the trainer and the doctor are linked and adapted programs can be designed. They each can be contacted if any changes occur. You will see your trainer more often than your doctor. Why not choose one that can take away worries and offer legitimate help.

Here are a few reasons why you should consult a certified personal trainer:
· Education and information on latest research;
· Proper techniques for pregnant woman;
· Constant monitoring;
· Set new guidelines;
· Adjust new goals;

All in all the best advice is to listen to your body. The miracle of conception is protected by many defense mechanisms and warning signs that your certified personal trainer is aware of. Your baby cannot talk and say when something is wrong, he/she let’s you know by sending messages through your body.

So whatever choices you make, choose an activity that you enjoy. Be consistent, stay hydrated, relax and listen to your body. Take time to get informed on your new state of health. Consult a professional.

You are truly beautiful.

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