Two for One Fitness
Doctors used to advise against exercise during pregnancy. As science and medical knowledge have advanced, that too has changed. Staying active during pregnancy can help pregnant women avoid excessive weight gain and increase their energy level. It can also make it easier to return to pre-pregnancy weight after the baby is born. Here’s the lowdown on fitness during pregnancy.
Why Work Out While I’m Pregnant?
There are plenty of benefits to being active during pregnancy, including a decreased risk of gestational diabetes and a lower chance of needing a Cesarean section. If increased energy, a shorter labor period, and a shorter “bounce back” period after giving birth isn’t enough to sell you, do it for your baby. Working out during your pregnancy has shown to also increase your chances of having a healthier baby, and even has some positive effects on their heart, too!
What About Miscarriage Risk?
The National Institute of Health has conducted studies to investigate the link between exercising and risk of miscarriage. While there was a slight increase in risk during the first trimester, that was only demonstrated in women who did high-intensity exercises of more than seven hours per week. For women who are accustomed to moderate exercise, there appeared to be no link whatsoever.
Learn to Move It, Move It
Exercising while pregnant doesn’t have to be strenuous or even at the same level as before you were pregnant; in fact, it’s better if you stick to a lighter routine. Your body has more blood, and a new organ (the placenta), to take care of now that it didn’t before you got pregnant. It’s also important, when your body demands rest, not to feel guilty for not exercising.
As far as how to get your body moving, talk to your doctor before you hit the gym or the yoga mat. Just as every pregnancy and person is different, your exercise routine needs to be unique to you and your needs. If you aren’t sure how to ease into it, here are a few exercises to try:
- Get in the water: Any kind of water activity, whether it’s swimming a few laps or water aerobics, will have you feeling like a beautiful mermaid. The water gives your body the feeling of weightlessness, which can be a relief to your tired ankles.
- Yoga: Practicing yoga doesn’t mean you have to contort your body into a pretzel. Simpler poses can stretch those aching back muscles and strengthen your abs and core, which will come in handy during labor.
- Cardio: Despite what your gym pals may think, cardio doesn’t have to be intense. Whether it’s a spin class or a brisk stroll on the treadmill, keeping your heart pumping strong is what it’s all about.
- Walk it Out: Taking a walk around the block is an easy way to clear your head and give you and your partner a chance to catch up with each other. Fortunately, this is one exercise busy moms can keep up with even after the baby is born!
Even though you’ve heard it before, it’s especially true during pregnancy: eat right, exercise, avoid unhealthy activity that can impact you or your baby (including smoking and alcohol). Since you’re eating for two (or more), hopefully you’ve already upgraded to a diet that has more fruits and vegetables than chips and soda. If you want to get into better shape for baby but aren’t sure where to start, talk with your doctor first. Having a partner, neighbor or friend join you can add to the fun and help you both stay with it. Fortunately, maintaining your health isn’t hard if you take it one step at a time, and stay consistent.