“You’re going jogging? Are you crazy? Isn’t that going to hurt the baby?” If I got a nickel every time I heard that, I’d have…well a dollar and fifty cents, but that still means that I’ve been looked down on at least 30 times for my love of fitness during pregnancy.
Yet, I might be an exception to the rule. A recent study found that a surprising number of fit women stop exercising after getting pregnant. While I agree that you should get your doctor’s ok to workout and in some cases it will not be granted, I find strong opposition to exercise during pregnancy unreasonable if not damaging to your health. It’s like believing that if you swim while pregnant, you will drown the baby!
Many women compare labor to running a marathon, some actually say that running a marathon is easier than labor! So if you knew that in several months you would need to be so fit as to run for miles and miles, wouldn’t you prepare?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advises at least 30 minutes of exercise on most, if not all, days of the week. Why? Exercising while pregnant benefits you in the following ways:
- Helps reduce backaches, constipation, bloating, and swelling.
- May help prevent or treat gestational diabetes.
- Increases your energy.
- Improves your mood.
- Improves your posture.
- Promotes muscle tone, strength, and endurance.
- Helps you sleep better.
- Helps keep you fit during pregnancy and may improve your ability to cope with labor. This will make it easier for you to get back in shape after the baby is born.
Those guys can’t be wrong!
What are safe forms of exercise in pregnancy? Walking, cycling, swimming and aerobics are generally recommended, while scuba diving, downhill snow skiing and contact sports (hockey, basketball, soccer) are to be avoided. I personally love power walks, sculpting and belly dancing.
PREGNANCY EXERCISE DO’S AND DON’TS
My favorite pregnancy book Pregnancy Day By Day lists the following guidelines for a safe workout:
- Warm up and cool down properly.
- Drink enough water before, during, and after exercising.
- Wear comfortable clothes that don’t restrict your rib cage.
- Exercise regularly and consistently.
- Adjust your expectations; pregnancy is not a time to go for personal bests.
- Build your strength, but do this gradually. Focus on your back, shoulders, chest, and lower body.
- Practice Kegel exercises daily to maintain the pelvic floor tone.
- Breathe properly while exercising, especially when lifting weights.
- Protect your back when getting up from a lying position: roll onto your left side and sit up using your legs.
- Avoid exercises that feel awkward or uncomfortable.
- Focus on posture and alignment.
- Stop immediately and seek medical advice if you feel severe localized pain, vaginal bleeding, or general unwellness.
- Eat frequent small meals and snacks to maintain energy and avoid having your blood sugar levels fall.
- Exercise in a hot or humid environment.
- Do jerky or bouncy movements or twist or rotate your abdomen.
- Lift weights that are too heavy.
- Do sports where you risk falling such as skiing or horseback riding.
- Overstretch: the pregnancy hormone relaxin can make you feel more supple than you are.
- Exercise to exhaustion. If you’re tired, decrease the intensity or duration. Get an hour’s rest for each hour of exercise.
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