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Overcoming Excuses

You know you should exercise - every book you've read and every doctor you've seen tells you so. It's common sense, all the studies support exercise during pregnancy....and yet, most days you just can't seem to pull on the sweats and force yourself to perform any action that isn't strictly necessary.

The key, then, is to consider exercise as a very necessary part of your pre-natal care. Normally, if you didn't feel well, you would rest a day. The problem with that thinking during pregnancy is that you don't know how long you're going to feel less than 100%. Here are some ways to work around symptoms that have been interfering with your workout.

If you have:  Nausea and Exhaustion
Then try:  Morning sickness can strike any time of day, but it usually sticks to the same time of day. Find a time of day when you aren't feeling quite as ill, and stick to low-impact activities like walking or yoga. A half hour before working out, eat some saltines or low-sugar ginger snaps. Motion-sickness bracelets can also help. Break your routine into ten minute intervals during the time of day you feel least tired.

If you have: Frequent urination
Then try: working out near a bathroom! If you are walking around your neighborhood, plot a course from coffee shop to shop and if you're walking around a less populated area, bring toilet paper (just make sure you can still squat.) **Keep in mind that later in your pregnancy, you may leak a little during exercise. Wear a pad for protection.

If you have: Back or hip pain
Then try: Low-impact workouts. Swimming, the elliptical machine, any exercises featuring fluid movements. A few times a day, try stretching to ease your overall achiness and pain. Pelvic tilts in particular are helpful for lower back pain. You may also consider a maternity belt to stabilize your hips and back.

If you have: Swollen and achy extremities
Then try: Swimming offers relief from the pressure caused by your uterus on the veins in your legs. if you find it difficult to kick, just float or use only your upper body. Avoid any activity that puts pressure on your legs (treadmill, elliptical, rowing) Time your workouts for earlier in the day as fluid buildup usually subsides during the night. Also, make sure your shoes are snug, but not too tight. Have your partner massage your feet and ankles in an upward motion toward your calves. If your wrists are achy, try wrist circles to get things moving. Limit upper body exercise. Call your doctor if you wrists are numb.

If you have: Heartburn
Then try: As your baby grows and displaces your internal organs, stomach acids get pushed back up into your esophagus.To combat heartburn and indigestion, eat small meals, stick to plenty of clear fluids, and avoid spicy, heavy foods. Work out around the times you are most prone to heartburn.

When to call the doctor: You should never try to push through pain, dizziness, or more severe symptoms (listed below) which may indicate serious conditions like preterm labor, preeclampsia, or hypertension. Stop activity immediately and contact your doctor right away.

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Fluid leakage (not urine, could indicate ruptured membranes)
  • Significant abdominal cramping and back pain
  • Severe headache
  • Affected vision (spots, specks of light)
  • Major swelling in your hands and feet

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