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MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information
Prepregnancy Exercise & Fitness

It is always great when women try to get in shape before becoming pregnant instead of waiting until they are in the middle of pregnancy. When designing any exercise program, it should include three components: cardiovascular or aerobic exercise, strength training, and flexibility training. Each of these pieces works with the others to increase lean body mass, reduce fat, strengthen your body, and decrease your risk of injury. Always have a medical exam and consult with your health care provider or midwife before starting on any new exercise program.


Cardiovascular or aerobic exercise is rhythmic activity that increases your heart rate and is meant to be continued for 20 to 30 minutes at least 3 times a week. You should work within 60 to 80 percent of your target heart rate zone, depending on your fitness level (someone who is more fit can workout at a higher intensity than someone just starting out). To determine your target heart rate, take 220 minus your age. Multiply that number by 60 percent (0.60) and 80 percent (0.80) to figure out your zone.

For instance - If you are 25 years old, subtract 25 from 220, which equals 195. Take 195 and multiply by 0.60, which equals 127. Then multiply 195 by 0.80, which equals 146. This 127 to 146 is your target rate zone, depending on your fitness level.

When you first start doing aerobic exercise, try wearing a heart rate monitor or taking your pulse every 30 minutes during exercise to make sure you are staying within your zone. Some rxamples of aerobic exercise are walking, jogging, step aerobics, StairMaster, swimming, bike riding, low impact aerobics, and dancing.

Martial arts training such as Tae Kwon Do, Kung Fu, and even low impact Tai Chi can be helpful for a good exercise workout as well as learning self-defense, mind centering, spiritual balance, stretching and proper body care to prevent injury. Judo and Jujitsu (Jiu-Jitsu) are good for non-pregnant women to learn for close-up self protection, but not recommended during pregnancy because you are learning throw holds and will be regularly "slammed on the mat" during class sessions. There are many styles of martial arts and defense training beyond those listed here. These are styles in which I have received training and which I am familiar. Keep in mind, these classes are only as good as the instructor(s) that teaches them. Do not be afraid to shop around until you find a class and an instructor that suits you and your needs and your personal approach to self-defense. Practice sessions can be done at home between classes. Once you become pregnant, take extra care not to be injured during class practice sessions. Let your instructor know when you become pregnant so training and practice sessions can be worked around your "delicate condition". Martial arts and self-defense classes may be privately owned or available through your local college or university.


Strength training is meant to increase your lean body mass and strengthen your muscles. You should begin by using light hand weights or machines at your local gym (get one of the floor trainers to teach you proper form). As you get stronger, add more weight to continue challenging your muscles. You should start by doing 2-3 sets of 8 repetitions of each exercise, gradually building up to 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions. Be sure to exhale as you lift the weight or tighten the muscles, and inhale as you lower the weight or relax the muscle. DO NOT HOLD YOUR BREATH WHILE LIFTING WEIGHTS! Some examples of strength training exercises are free weight lifting, Nautilus machines, abdominal crunches, BodyPump classes, and body sculpting classes. You'll want to do exercises for all the major muscle groups including the upper arms, backs of the upper arms, shoulders, chest, upper back, lower back, abdominals, buttocks, thighs (front and back), and calves.


Flexibility training, or stretching, is meant to lengthen and increase the elasticity of your muscles, lowering your risk of pulling or tearing a muscle during your workouts and during everyday life. It is very important to breathe throughout each stretch - holding your breath can cause your blood pressure to skyrocket (especially dangerous once you're pregnant!). Also, avoid any bouncing movements during this portion of your workout. Take each stretch to the point of feeling it, then hold that position for 15 to 20 seconds. You will want to stretch all of the muscles you use during your workout. For example, if you do the StairMaster, you will need to stretch your buttocks, thighs, and calves really well afterward. If you do an upper body strength training workout, you'will need to stretch those muscles. Some yoga classes are especially wonderful for maintaining flexibility during pregnancy. There are a couple of pregnancy yoga workout videos on the market that you might want to check out. Find A Yoga Instructor & Class


A sample week of workouts:
  • Monday - 20 minute walk at a brisk pace, 5 minutes of abdominal exercises, 10 minutes of stretching.

  • Tuesday - 30 minutes of weight training the upper body, 5 minutes of abdominals, 10 minutes of stretching.

  • Wednesday - 20 minute swim, 30 minutes of weight training the lower body, 10 minutes of stretching.

  • Thursday - 20 minutes of weight training the upper body, 5 minutes of abdominals, 10 minutes of stretching.

  • Friday - 60 minute yoga class.

  • Saturday - Work in the yard.

  • Sunday - Relaxation day.


Really tune into your body's signals as to when you have had enough. Do not overdo it. Believe me, you will regret it and feel it later. Work up your stamina slowly and give your body time to recover from your workout sessions.


You will already be several weeks into your pregnancy before you even know you are pregnant, so you want to make sure you do not overdo your workouts and put your baby at risk. Your body will let you know when you are working too hard - you will start to feel lightheaded, dizzy, faint, or nauseous; your heart will feel like it is pounding in your chest; you will feel completely out of breath. If those symptoms appear, then slow down your intensity and take some small sips of water until you feel better. If the symptoms persist, call your midwife or health care provider right away.

Drinking lots of water throughout your workouts will help you maintain a safe internal temperature so that your baby is protected. Also, remember to breathe throughout your workouts.


MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information: Pre-Pregnancy Checklist
MoonDragon's Articles Index
MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information, Survival Tips & Links
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MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information Index
MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information & Survival Tips

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