Great pregnancy exercise: Dancing

Great pregnancy exercise: Dancing

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The benefits of dancing during pregnancy

Dancing is great exercise during pregnancy! Not only do you get to move your body to music you love, but it will keep you flexible while toning your muscles. You can get a cardiovascular workout from any fast-paced dance, or stretch and maintain muscle tone when you hold positions in ballet.

Before doing any kind of pregnancy exercise, be sure to get clearance from your healthcare provider. If you danced regularly before getting pregnant, you can probably continue dancing at the same intensity as before, but you'll need to make modifications as your belly expands.

If your provider gives you the green light, you can use dance as your workout routine as often as you want. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advises at least 20 to 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most or all days of the week. Learn more about the benefits of pregnancy exercise.


From yoga and Pilates to swimming, learn the best ways to stay active during pregnancy.

Tips for dancing in the first trimester

Dance as you normally would, but keep a few precautions in mind:

  • Warm up first. Warming up prepares your joints and muscles for exercise, which also builds up your heart rate slowly. Skipping a warm-up could strain ligaments and joints, leading to injury. The most effective way to warm up is by dancing at low intensity and gradually building it up over 5 to 8 minutes to your workout level.
  • Listen to your body. Adjust the intensity of your dancing according to how you feel. Slow down if you can't carry on a conversation comfortably, and take a break if you can't catch your breath.
  • Be gentle. Keep your workout easy on your joints by keeping one foot on the floor at all times. If your joints get sore from doing certain moves, try substituting others, such as marching or stepping side to side.

Always be aware of your body's limitations and pay attention to signs that you're doing too much. These include severe muscle weakness and soreness after a workout, or feeling exhausted instead of invigorated afterward.

Tips for dancing in the second and third trimesters

Consider the dance genre

  • You may find that the sharp, jarring movements of styles such as Zumba, hip hop, and tap become more difficult as you grow, but otherwise you can continue for as long as you're comfortable.
  • Ballroom dancing is a great way to get your heart rate up and activate your muscles, though you and your partner will need to make modifications as your belly expands.
  • Belly dancing keeps you flexible, and the gentle movements make it a good choice for pregnancy.

Modify the routine for your growing belly

  • Your center of gravity shifts as your belly gets bigger. Keep your balance by avoiding moves that make you feel unstable, and slow down if you find yourself wobbling between steps.
  • Shorten the range of motion of your movements (such as shortening your bends or not stepping as wide).
  • If you feel pain during dance workouts, keep track of how long you can exercise before the joint or muscle discomfort begins and don't dance that long.
  • If you join a group dance class, always make sure you have at least a leg's length of room between you and others. Otherwise, someone might accidentally kick or push you during routines.

"The key for keeping dance safe during pregnancy is to keep in mind that your body may respond differently each day you exercise," says Catherine Cram, MS, an exercise physiologist who specializes in maternal fitness. What works for you one day may not feel as comfortable the next, so adjust your routine as often as needed.

Also, make sure the shoes you're wearing fit the sport. Running shoes aren't a good choice for dancing because they tend to be heavy, and the wider soles can cause tripping with dance moves. Invest in a pair of shoes that are designed for dance movement, and measure your foot to make sure you're wearing the correct size. (Your feet can become larger during pregnancy.)

Finding prenatal dance classes or DVDs

Check gyms, your community recreation center, or the YMCA to see if they offer prenatal dance classes. You also might get good recommendations for local dance studios from friends and co-workers, online, or in weekly papers.

"Dance classes are a great way to meet other women," says Cram, "and it doesn't have to be a pregnancy-only class as long as the instructor feels comfortable helping you make modifications. If you're continuing with a class you were doing prior to pregnancy, just let the instructor know that you're pregnant."

Choose classes held in a room that's climate-controlled and has the proper type of flooring for dance (usually wood). Make sure there's a water fountain and a bathroom nearby as well.

To get the most out of a workout at home, try a prenatal dance DVD or go online to find a program you can stream. You can also try a public library – they can request DVDs from other libraries if they don't have what you're looking for.

What to do if you're sore after a dance workout

If joint or muscle discomfort or pain doesn't go away after a day or two, stop your routine and rest for three to five days. If this doesn't help, you may need to find a different type of exercise, such as swimming, that won't put stress on your joints. Always follow up with your healthcare provider if you still have the injury after a week.

Learn more:

  • The rules of safe pregnancy exercise
  • Great pregnancy exercise: Stretching
  • Great pregnancy exercise: Prenatal yoga
  • Pregnancy exercise: Warning signs to slow down or stop

Watch the video: 25 Minute Prenatal Bodyweight Workout---No equipment workout for 1st, 2nd and 3rd Trimesters (July 2022).


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