pregnant woman sitting on an exercise ball holding two weights

By Catherina CHUA Bee Hong Senior Principal Physiotherapist, Elizabeth CHAN Jiahui Principal Physiotherapist, KK Women's and Children's Hospital

At week 14, you'll just be entering a time of pregnancy when many women feel healthier than they've ever felt before. You're likely to have enough energy to enjoy exercising — and keep in tip-top shape for you and your baby. Here are the answers to some of the most common concerns about exercise at this stage.

Related: Exercising Safely in Trimester 2

Can I exercise during my second trimester?

Yes. Exercise helps you to prepare and cope to meet the physical demands of labour and birth. However, please seek medical advice from your doctor before starting any exercise programme.

Related: Management of Common Pregnancy Symptoms

Why is exercise important during pregnancy?

It will help to reduce constipation and enable better weight control. It also helps to reduce the risk of developing pregnancy-induced diabetes and hypertension. Studies have shown that staying fit helps expectant mothers to regulate their mental and physical stress. This may also help to reduce their babies developing colic.

Related: Guide 7: Working Out While Pregnant

What exercises are recommended?

Similar to the advice given in trimester one, if you haven't been exercising regularly before pregnancy, it's recommended that you start with 15 minutes of exercise a day and gradually increase up to 30 minutes a day, five to seven days a week. These exercises can include walking, stair climbing or light aerobics.

If you've always been active, it's safe to continue with your current exercise programme. But, as you become heavier, you may need to reduce the intensity of your exercises.

Avoid contact and competitive sports, and activities that involve jumping, jarring motions or those which demand rapid changes of direction.

Pelvic floor exercises help to maintain the strength of pelvic floor muscles to prevent stress urinary incontinence and in future, organ prolapse.

Related: Pregnancy Exercises

What are the key points to remember before and during exercise?

Make sure you drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration and overheating. Avoid exercising in the sun and stay away from intensive activities on hot days. Remember to warm up and cool down to prepare your muscles and joints. Always listen to your body, and don't overexert yourself. It's perfectly normal to experience decreased overall activity and fitness level as your pregnancy progresses. And if you're not feeling well, see your obstetrician immediately.

Read these next:

Sources:

The New Art and Science of Pregnancy and Childbirth 2008, World Scientific

Healthy Start for your Pregnancy 2012, Health Promotion Board Singapore