The second trimester is an ideal time to exercise. Your morning sickness has probably vanished, your belly is not yet ungainly, and you have that famous second-trimester energy boost. If you were exercising in the first trimester, you probably can continue the same routines, although you should avoid exercises that require you to lie on your back for long periods. If you’re just starting an exercise routine, go slowly and talk to your doctor first.
Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy
Exercise has multiple benefits for pregnant women. It can help you maintain a healthy weight, ease pregnancy-related discomforts, elevate your mood, increase your energy and even help prepare your body for labor. According to the American Diabetes Association, exercise might help you avoid developing gestational diabetes.
Low-impact exercises are suitable for most pregnant women. These exercises do not put stress on the joints and ligaments, which are already taxed during pregnancy. Low-impact exercises include yoga, swimming, water aerobics and walking. Cycling is also a low-impact exercise; however, unless you’re already a regular cyclist, you should not start this activity during the second trimester. Your center of gravity begins to shift during this trimester as your belly grows, which makes it difficult to maintain balance. That puts you at risk for falling off the bike. The American Pregnancy Association recommends stationary cycling over regular biking during pregnancy.
If you haven’t been doing Kegel exercises throughout your first trimester, you should definitely begin doing them in the second trimester. Kegel exercises are movements that help tone and strengthen the pelvic floor and vaginal muscles. This exercise becomes particularly important in the second and third trimesters as your baby is putting increasing pressure on your pelvic floor. The increased pressure can weaken those muscles and raise your risk of developing urinary incontinence later in pregnancy and postpartum. To perform Kegel exercises, squeeze the pelvic floor muscles, hold the contraction for up to 10 seconds, and then slowly release. Repeat the exercise 10 times in a row, several times daily. You pelvic floor muscles are those you would use to stop the flow of urine.
Exercises to Avoid
Starting with the second trimester, you must be careful to avoid exercises and activities that increase your risk of falling or hitting your stomach. Even a mild blow to the stomach could cause a serious consequence to your pregnancy. You should avoid activities such as contact sports, downhill skiing, horseback riding and rock-climbing until your pregnancy is over, even if you are accustomed to those activities.
Pregnant women must take particular care to avoid overheating while exercising because that can cause grave harm to the baby. To diminish the risk of overheating, never exercise outside in hot, sunny weather, and stay well hydrated as you exercise. Drink 1 cup of water per 20 minutes of exercise. The University of Michigan recommends pregnant women who exercise drink about 10 cups of water a day. You should also listen to your body while exercising. If you are feeling unusually fatigued, dizzy or nauseated, or if you are experiencing cramps, vaginal bleeding or the loss of any other fluid, stop exercising immediately. If your symptoms continue after you have cooled down, call your doctor.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.