By: Laurie Edwards for Uterus1
Like so many health and wellness issues, opinions over exercising and pregnancy have volleyed back and forth, leaving women wondering, how much is too much? Luckily, gone are the days when women were told anything but walking could be dangerous. Instead, the medical and fitness communities now agree that the best antidote for many of the negative lifestyle aspects of pregnancy is to keep moving!
| Interested in exercising while pregnant:|
Always discuss exercise and weight training with your physician before you begin a regimen.
Don’t be afraid to ask: Many gyms have specialty consults for pregnant women that walk you through the best exercises for your pregnancy and, more importantly, how to do them correctly.
Love Sun Salutes but feel awkward with your newfound tummy? Many gyms and fitness centers offer classes specifically for pregnant women, so look for a pre-natal yoga class or Mommy-to-be aerobics session near you.
You don’t need a gym to be healthy – simply taking a brisk walk around your block is a step in the right direction.
More specific information on pregnancy and exercise can be found on the American College of Sports Medicine’s Web site. Click here
The key, they say, is to exercise in moderation and to know which activities are most beneficial to mother and baby – and which to avoid altogether. Sound familiar? If so, that’s because you’ve heard this mantra often.
In fact, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology has this advice for pregnant women: “In the absence of either medical or obstetric complications, pregnant women also can follow the same recommendations for exercise as non-pregnant populations. Accumulation of 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise a day should occur on most, if not all, days of the week.”
Consult with your physician before beginning any fitness routine. If you’re not used to exercising, many women find the second trimester a good place to begin since the nausea of the first semester has ended and you are still able to move around fairly easily. Low-impact cardiovascular exercise and strength training are the best routes.
Keeping in shape earlier in the pregnancy could mean less joint and muscle problems later. The American College of Sports Medicine, which recently released an article detailing the proven benefits of pre-natal exercise, echoes these sentiments.
“Substantial research on exercise during pregnancy, both from a lifestyle and science perspective, suggests that exercise may mediate these undesirable changes and improve quality of life,” wrote article author Renee Jeffreys.
We can all relate to the more cosmetic fears of pregnancy: the change in appearance, the bloating, etc. But there are real physiological concerns that accompany this drastic change in body structure.
Sudden weight gain puts increased pressure on pregnant women’s bodies, in many cases causing back pain, difficulties maintaining posture and pain in the head and neck. The stronger a woman’s muscles are – think of all those free weights and Nautilus machines in the strength training section of your gym – the less strain they feel when carrying extra weight.
With the increasing levels of obesity and related medical problems in our country, it is clear that too much weight poses even more concern for pregnant women. Of course women need to gain weight to carry a healthy baby – experts recommend 25-35 lbs for a single baby, and 35-45 lbs for twins. But excessive weight gain can lead to higher blood pressure and gestational diabetes, and excess postpartum weight is closely linked with increased maternal obesity eight to 10 years later.
Sound like enough incentive to hit the gym or the walking trail? Here’s what you need to know, and as always, common sense is the best rule of thumb. Highly intense activities like karate or gymnastics are off the list, as are skiing, scuba diving and activities that pose a higher risk of falling.
Instead, focus on swimming, walking, low-impact aerobics and riding the stationery bike. Yoga is another great ways to keep in shape and not overly stress the body. In terms of strength training, experts emphasize the benefits of the strengthening the core muscles – the muscles of the pelvis, lower back and abdomen – since they are the most affected by pregnancy.
Pay careful attention to keeping hydrated, as exercising changes the amount of fluid in the body. Also, remember that a baby needs around 300 calories to develop normally, so if you’re worried your routine is too vigorous and you’re burning too many needed calories, consult your physician and make changes accordingly.