Walking might be the ultimate form of exercise for moms-to-be. It’s low-impact, easy to master and free.
However, the weather doesn’t always cooperate with the best-laid plans of mice and expectant mamas. On those days, why not take your workout indoors? Here are six tips for walking on a treadmill while pregnant.
1. Talk to Your Obstetrician
Most obstetricians recommend exercise during pregnancy. They might tell you to start a mild fitness program if you’re currently sedentary.
However, some pregnancy conditions make exercise hazardous. The following conditions may make it unsafe for you to lace up your walking shoes:
- Certain heart and lung conditions: For example, women with congenital heart defects may need surgery to correct them before becoming pregnant or use extreme caution.
- Preeclampsia: A condition causing high blood pressure, edema and organ failure risk.
- Cerclage: A surgical procedure to knit your cervix shut if it opens during pregnancy.
- Twins or triplets: You might be fine to exercise, but not if you run a risk of preterm birth.
- Placenta previa: You may not exercise if this condition occurs after 26 weeks of pregnancy.
- Severe anemia: A lack of iron or, more rarely, vitamin B-12.
- Preterm labor or ruptured membranes: If you break your water before your 34th week, you will likely require bed rest if an underlying condition doesn’t warrant preterm birth.
Please keep in mind that your energy levels might fluctuate throughout your pregnancy. In general, exercise boosts your pep. However, get mindful and learn how to listen to your body. If you feel too exhausted on a given day, don’t push it.
2. Invest in Quality Shoes
The sneakers you had before pregnancy might not be the most supportive as you enter your third trimester. Pregnant women often struggle with swollen feet that may or may not return to their original size after birth.
Therefore, you might not want to line your closet with designer shoes while expecting, but you’ll need a sturdy pair of sneakers for exercise. Even if you typically order online, visit the shop to try on a few pairs to ensure the right fit.
Keep in mind that your center of gravity shifts as you gain weight in the front. You’re already a little more wobbly than usual, so seek sneakers with secure grips that won’t send you sliding over slick surfaces. Above all, you want to avoid falling, especially on your belly.
3. Choose Models With Safety Features
You probably don’t think of walking on a treadmill as an inherently dangerous activity, and it’s usually not. Nevertheless, these pieces of equipment send thousands of people to the emergency room each year. You need to take extra precautions when pregnant by selecting models with the best safety features.
What should you look for? Your model should come equipped with a panic button, a tether clip or both. It’s also useful if your treadmill has handles on the front and side to hold for extra balance. It also helps to apply a sticker or two to the belt so that you can see if it’s in motion before stepping aboard.
4. Get Your Heart Pumping — Gently
During pregnancy, your cardiac output — the amount of blood your heart beats — increases by 30% to 50%. Therefore, your heart rate is already elevated above normal to keep up the pace.
Previously, doctors advised pregnant women to keep their heart rates below 140 beats per minute (BPM). However, today’s recommendations contain no such guidelines other than consulting with your physician.
If you exercised regularly before you got pregnant, you can likely continue at a similar level for a while after consulting with your doctor. However, you should use caution in hot environments, as overheating increases the risk of heart problems and neural tube defects in your unborn. Use the fan function on your treadmill, turn down your thermostat and stop when you start to get uncomfortably sweaty.
5. But Listen to Your Body
Your body is your best clue that something is wrong. However, problems sometimes arise when athletic women accustomed to pushing through cramps and discomfort take the same approach during pregnancy.
Please stop exercising if you feel abdominal cramps or any unusual pain, a racing heartbeat, dizziness or unusual shortness of breath. Remember, you’re not the only person affected — you might be able to push through the burn, but what about your baby?
6. Refrain From Multitasking
Many treadmill injuries occur when people are distracted by electronic devices. It might be tempting to take your work with you. For the health of your unborn, please don’t.
If you must use a cellphone or tablet while exercising to distract you from the task at hand, please set it to airplane mode before hitting start. Listening to music or watching Netflix on a treadmill is one thing. It’s quite another to write an article or balance a budget report.
Tips for Walking on a Treadmill While Pregnant
Walking on a treadmill may represent the ideal pregnancy exercise. It’s low-impact, making it easier on your joints as your center of gravity shifts and your body changes. Plus, you can control the climate in your home.
However, any fitness program entails some risks, even though the results outweigh them. Check with your doctor and follow these tips for walking on a treadmill while pregnant.