Between the aching back, the nausea, and the exhaustion, pregnancy can be the perfect excuse to skip a workout. But if your pregnancy is healthy, a bit of regular exercise can pay off.
And here’s more good news: You don’t have to run a mile or hit the weight room. If dancing is your thing, get your groove on during your pregnancy and reap the benefits.
From workouts and classes to safety considerations, here’s everything you should know about dancing for exercise during your pregnancy.
Before you begin any kind of exercise program, it’s important that you run it past your doctor. There may be reasons that exercising during your pregnancy is a bad idea. These can include:
- certain forms of heart or lung disease
- problems with your cervix
- vaginal bleeding
- placental issues
- preterm labor
- severe anemia
- premature membrane rupture
The general rule of thumb is that pregnancy isn’t the best time to begin a new type of exercise.
However, a dance workout like Zumba can be a good option for fitness during pregnancy, even if you’re trying it for the first time. That’s because you get to go at your own pace. And class instructors can change routines to better fit your needs.
Experts used to recommend that pregnant women reach a heart rate of no higher than 140 beats per minute during exercise. According to the Mayo Clinic, heart rate limits no longer apply.
Instead, the recommendation is for pregnant women to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week. Women are also advised to pace themselves during their workouts and take breaks as needed.
Exercise, especially in a group setting like a dance fitness class, will boost your body temperature. This can affect the development of your growing baby. So take water breaks and don’t work out so hard that your body temperature goes over 101°F (38°C).
Speak with your class instructor before beginning. Let them know you’re pregnant. Ask for changes to the dance routine to accommodate your growing belly, your shifting center of gravity, and your potentially decreased energy level.
These may include:
- marching instead of jumping
- steps in place of leaps
- amended twists and turns
- keeping one foot on the ground at all times
You’ll probably also be advised to take breaks whenever you need them.
If you have the green light from your doctor, but you can’t find a dance workout class in your area, don’t be discouraged. You can look online for prenatal dance workout videos and DVDs.
You may also find free workouts that you can use for inspiration. Remember to follow the same rules as for dance classes:
- Listen to your body.
- Change movements as necessary.
- Take breaks to catch your breath or drink water when you need it.
Consistent movement of a moderate intensity is the goal, no matter how well you’re doing it.
Whether it’s dance class, regular walks, or swimming, the benefits of regular exercise while you’re pregnant are impressive.
Exercising during your pregnancy can help:
- Reduce backaches.
- Reduce bloating.
- Improve your energy and mood.
- Prevent excessive weight gain.
You can also thank the improved circulation that comes with exercise for keeping many problems at bay. Better circulation can help reduce unpleasant pregnancy side effects, including:
Exercise will strengthen your cardiovascular system, improving your endurance. Better muscle tone also means less exertion with everyday tasks and more energy throughout the day. Plus, regular exercise can lead to more restful sleep. It may even help reduce the risk of gestational diabetes.
Another big benefit? According to the American Pregnancy Association, a mom’s fitness level can affect the length of labor, the chances of medical interventions, and general exhaustion during labor. While it won’t lessen the pain of labor and delivery, staying in shape during your pregnancy will improve your stamina. The fitter you are, it seems, the better.
Whether you enjoy scheduled dance fitness classes or prefer the flexibility of following a dance workout video at home, remember to get the all-clear from your doctor first.
Listen to your body and make changes to your dance routine as you go. The goal is to feel good, so remember that pregnancy isn’t the time to overexert yourself. With consistency, you’ll likely find that your dance sessions are a great way to help you relieve tension, improve your mood, and keep you feeling strong.