Health / Pregnancy

5 Ways Exercise Should Change in the First Trimester

With your doctor’s “okay,” you can continue exercising during your first trimester with these minor adjustments.

Baby on the way? Congrats! If you’re concerned with how this might impact your typical workout routine, don’t be. Your exercise schedule most certainly doesn’t have to come to a halt—and it shouldn’t. It’s one of the best things that you can do to ensure a healthy pregnancy. However, you should make a few changes, especially in the first trimester. This is when your budding baby is developing in the the most essential ways.

Staying active during pregnancy can lead to an easier pregnancy and labor. However, pregnancy comes with some pretty extraordinary physical and anatomical changes in order to nurture the growing fetus, specifically to the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, which may alter your regular exercise routine,” explains Anate Brauer, M.D., a reproductive endocrinologist at the Greenwich Fertility and IVF Centers, and assistant professor of OB-GYN at the NYU School of Medicine.

Due to these new demands and physical changes being placed on your body, your health care provider will likely recommend making a few adjustments during trimester one.

To give yourself the best shot at a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby, here are some ways in which your exercise routine should change during pregnancy. Also, check out Aaptiv’s maternity program for pregnancy-safe workouts. 

Avoid moving too far out of your comfort zone.

Pregnancy is an exciting time of change. But that’s no excuse to start switching up your exercise routine or attempting something completely new. For example, if you weren’t previously a runner, pregnancy is not the time to start clocking miles. Why? Brooke Taylor, ACE- and NASM-certified fitness instructor, certified RRCA running coach, and creator of Taylored Fitness, warns that new forms of exercise can be rather shocking on the body and, in turn, affect the baby. If you’re new to exercise, she recommends starting slow. Add 20 minutes of brisk walking a day into your regimen. “If you have been exercising regularly five to six days a week and have a clean bill of health, your doctor will typically give you the stamp of approval to continue your normal regiment, with a couple of modifications,” she adds.

Aaptiv has walking programs you can do while pregnant. View some of our workout samples here.

Take things down a notch.

Dr. Brauer’s patients often ask her about whether or not they should keep their heart rate at or below a certain level during pregnancy. However, she says this is a tough question to answer. “Considering heart rate in pregnancy is elevated even at rest, this is often hard to do,” she explains.”My suggestion is to decrease your level of effort from what used to be a ten outside of pregnancy to a seven in pregnancy, rather than sticking to hard and fast heart rate cutoffs.”

Avoid high-impact exercises.

Brisk walking and light jogging is acceptable in the first trimester, and faster-paced running (if you were doing it pre-pregnancy). But Dr. Brauer does not recommend high-impact exercise. “Low-impact exercises, such as swimming or any kind of water aerobics, are excellent alternatives. They provide a full-body workout with almost zero impact.”

Keep grunting exercises off the table.

“Valsalva,” that sound people make when they’re holding their breath and bearing down to lift a heavy weight, is a no-no during pregnancy, according to Rebecca Levy-Gantt, M.D., OB-GYN, at Premier ObGyn Napa Inc., in Napa, California. “Holding the breath and lifting something heavy changes the way blood flows to and from the heart. [It] is not encouraged when pregnant, since blood flow is all about the uterus,” she says.

Enforce a proper warmup and cool down.

Even if you got away with not including a warmup and cool down in your workout pre-pregnancy, you shouldn’t continue this during pregnancy. “Your body is naturally undergoing all of these hormonal changes. Taking your body from 0 to 100 can cause stress on it,” warns Taylor. “Take the time to warm up properly [by] foam rolling—aka self-myofascial release to open up the muscle spindles around the joints. Then ease your body into increasing its temperature and getting the blood flow circulating. [This] will allow the body to adapt into the next thing.” Also, take the time to cool down properly. This will help decrease your temperature and lengthen your muscles back to a neutral state, Taylor adds.

If you’re looking for pregnancy workouts, our prenatal expert trainers can guide you every step of the way. View the classes in app today!

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