Pregnancy naturally comes with aches, pain, and weight gain. Your body is stretching and transforming in ways reserved for the hard work of creating new life, so it’s not hard to understand why you may be a bit uncomfortable. Trying to find a workout that allows you to work muscles without causing more discomfort may feel impossible. Your answer may be swimming!
Why and How to Swim While Pregnant
During pregnancy, a doctor’s main objective is to keep the pregnancy low-risk. This means primarily tracking heart rate, blood pressure, and weight to ensure the baby can safely develop. Research suggests sedentary patients are more likely to develop high-risk profiles during pregnancy, so a doctor will commonly suggest light activity in low-risk pregnancies. Because of the unique traits of water, swimming is the ideal form of light activity.
The FITT principle is the foundation of most doctors’ fitness recommendations for pregnancy. The FITT acronym outlines a frequency of three to four times per week; an appropriate intensity in which heart rate is in the safe zone (use the talk test); a healthy amount of time, usually between 15 and 30 minutes for each workout, depending on current athletic conditioning; and a type of activity, which in this case would be swimming.
Swimming is a great exercise for all fitness levels. The strength and speed with which you hit the water will determine how hard you work against it. In the water, you feel just a tenth of your land weight, which means it’s far less strenuous on your joints and muscles, particularly your back, a common source of pain for pregnant women. You are also less likely to get overheated.
Always remember that when pregnant, your goal is to be in shape to safely carry and deliver your baby. You’re not trying to be the strongest or fastest person in the water, nor are you trying to lose weight. Swim to engage your body and stay in shape. Save any racing for post-pregnancy.
Because of the diversity of strokes and moves available in the water, no two swim workouts have to be exactly the same. An easy way to maintain variety is to employ dice swimming workouts.
• Swim any stroke that feels comfortable.
• Use water aerobics, including walking and jogging in the water against the resistance.
• Stay hydrated.
• Stay in tune with your body. If you start to feel weak or dizzy, or you have pain or anything else that doesn’t feel right, stop and contact your doctor.
• Swim with a friend.
• Avoid jumping or diving into the water. Always enter carefully.
• Avoid overexerting your lungs by attempting to stay underwater for long periods. Taking frequent breaths is encouraged.
• Avoid hot tubs or spas with high temperatures to keep your core body temperature safe.
• Avoid pools that have been improperly cared for. Signs include an overwhelming chemical odor or visibly unclean water.
Enjoy your water time!
Bridget Letizia is a sports and fitness enthusiast, and influential team member of Presidential Pools, Spas & Patio, the largest pool builder in the country, which is based in Arizona. She is a certified personal trainer and certified instructor in Pilates, Kickboxing, Group Exercise, Zumba, Silver [...]