Staying Active in your First Trimester

Becoming pregnant of course leads to countless changes in your body. Many of them have potential to impact your exercise routine, even in the first trimester when you may not be expecting it. Here are some of the most common pregnancy-induced changes you’ll see in those first few months, along with tips and tricks for how to keep active despite them.

Low energy. While pop culture would have you believe morning sickness is the most common symptom of early pregnancy, doctors and midwives actually say it’s low energy that bogs more women down. Getting to the gym when you can barely get out of bed is a tough pill to swallow. So how do you stay active? Well first, mama, don’t pressure yourself! You don’t need to keep up your old exercise routine right now. In the first trimester, your body is growing an entire organ, the placenta. You will have good reason to be tired! Listen to your body and rest as much as you need to. When you feel up for rolling off the couch, try something low-key like going for a walk or taking a short bike ride. I promise you will feel better afterward! Getting your blood moving is a great way to increase your energy levels. The key here is to remember your body will not be able to do as much as before. Used to swimming in the morning then going for a spin class at night? It’s okay if you have to skip the swim and go for a walk instead of spinning. Don’t beat yourself up about it: your energy will return in 2-3 months.

Nausea. Of course, what pregnancy wouldn’t be complete without nausea? This can make finding motivation to do anything hard. When you’re feeling nauseous, keep in mind that getting out and being active can actually decrease your nausea! Fresh air and a bit of blood circulation will work wonders for the body. You may not be running marathons, but anything to get your heart rate up at least a bit will go a long way.

Changes in metabolism. While this may sound like a good thing for working out, some women may find changes in appetite yet another adjustment to make to their workout routine. Are you used to eating a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast before our 6-mile morning run? You may realize a 2-3 mile run is more likely at this point, but consider that your food intake may need to change as well. That same bowl of oatmeal might no longer support your increased metabolism. Or maybe your body doesn’t like that much food in it at one time any more. If your go-to fuel no longer works for you, try to break your caloric intake into smaller snacks. Maybe a piece of toast with a handful of nuts works better than a heaping bowl of oatmeal topped with fruit and yogurt. Listen to your body, don’t be afraid to mix up your nutrition, and think about eating smaller and more frequent snacks.

Food sensitivity. Related to changes in metabolism, you may experience an increased sensitivity to the foods you put in your body. Otherwise known as pregnancy cravings 🙂 This can affect how much energy you have for working out, so it’s important to keep your body well-nourished in order to stay active. Try a variety of food groups and macronutrients to find what works best for your body.

Lightheadedness. Another common pregnancy symptom throughout all trimesters, lightheadedness is caused by decreased blood volume. Your body is busy creating up to 50% more blood for the placenta and your little one, leaving less for the rest of your body. This can manifest as lightheadedness (especially when getting up or remaining standing for long periods of time), muscle weakness, dizziness, or shortness of breath. To keep lightheadedness at bay and stay moving, be sure to drink plenty of fluids! If you’re drinking a lot and using the bathroom a lot (even for a preggo!), talk to your doctor about eating more salt. Most women naturally get plenty of salt in their diets (frequently too much), but if you do a lot of home-cooking or prefer lots of fresh, vegetable-heavy meals, it’s possible your body does not have enough salt to retain all the water you’re drinking. This will compound your lightheadedness. Keep your fluids balance in mind if this is something you’re struggling with.

High temperature. Here’s one that doesn’t get talked about frequently. Because your metabolism increases when pregnant, you may find yourself feeling hotter than usual. Drink plenty of fluids to stay cool and avoid things that will make you too hot, such as working out in the hot sun. If your gym is not well-ventilated, try going during an off time when there are fewer people. Be sure to wear clothing that breathes well and doesn’t hold in heat, such as workout tanktops and running shorts.

These are just the most common changes, but of course every woman and every body is different! What’s holding YOU back from working out to your fullest in the first trimester? Leave a comment below!

KK 26oct18

Photo credit: Bainbridge Bethesda,