In my blog last week I discussed exercise duration, the second of four components used when developing a prenatal fitness program. This week exercise frequency is the focus.The number of days each week that a pregnant woman can safely exercise depends upon several factors. They include:
- Her current level of fitness
- How well she is tolerating pregnancy (ie: any discomfort, lack of weight gain or excessive fatigue)
- The intensity and type and duration of activity she is doing
- How well her body is responding to her exercise routine
- Some women find that they can comfortably exercise 5-6 days a week as long as they modify the intensity, duration, and type of activity as needed to maintain a comfortable routine. Three days a week is the minimum needed to achieve cardiovascular benefits and gain improvements in fitness, and many women find that exercising most days is the best way to remain consistent with their program.
- Pregnant women should reduce their exercise frequency if they experience signs of overtraining, (see below) and allow for more rest days between exercise sessions.
Signs of Overtraining:
- Lack of weight gain
- Extreme fatigue that doesn’t resolve with rest
- Increase in illness or very slow recovery from illness
- Sustained muscle soreness or pain
- Inability to maintain exercise routine
- Increased resting heart rate
- Depressed mood
- Slowed fetal growth