It seems so easy to slip into a more sedentary routine during pregnancy. Those swollen ankles, that achy back and that baffling lack of energy don’t really make for good motivators for exercise! However, an active pregnancy is the best way to ensure easy childbirth, unless of course, there are some serious complications.
There are many benefits that may accrue from exercising during pregnancy –
- Exercise can help ease or even prevent the discomfort associated with pregnancy.
- It helps reduce constipation by accelerating movement in the intestines.
- It boosts energy levels and improves overall health.
- Exercising daily will help you sleep better by relieving the stress and anxiety that might make you restless at night.
- It may also help you look better by increasing the blood flow to your skin, giving you a healthy glow.
- The right exercise also helps prepare for labor by improving stamina and muscle strength. In fact, doctors say that being in good shape may even shorten your labor and speed your recovery.
It has been found that babies born to mothers who were active during their pregnancies have better neurodevelopment and are stronger and healthier, compared to those born to mothers who had sedentary pregnancies.
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I went to aqua natal swimming classes througout my pregnacies which was great.
Here's the deal with exercise & pregnancy...unless you were exercising regularly before you got pregnant, you should not start an intense exercise routine during pregnancy. That's not to say you shouldn't add light activity to your lifestyle--going for walks, gardening, aqua aerobics (not that this is always light, but it isn't high-impact). You just shouldn't start running and lifting weights if you weren't already doing it before you got pregnant.
I second what the Boss said. Basically, there is not a lot of research out there on exercise during pregnancy, for obvious reasons. It is not a comfortable (or ethical) state to study. I was very interested in this topic and did several presentations on it during residency training. The most recent ACOG (American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology) guideline is that
in normal/non-complicated pregnancies (make sure that your doc validates that this is you), it is advised to moderately exercise (to keep your heart rate below 85% of your max heart rate which, is approximately 220-your age) up to 30 minutes per day on most days of the week.
ACOG recommends that after the first trimester, women should avoid full contact sports (soccer, tackle football, snowboarding, extreme cycling, etc). Most activities are safe, but those that pose a risk of abdominal trauma should be avoided. Similarly, scuba diving should be avoided not because of risk for injury, but because the baby's immature circulatory system increases the baby's susceptibility to decompression sickness. Despite older traditional recommendations, running is ok but again, try to stay below 85% of your max heart rate.
It is also recommended to steer clear of weightlifting greater than about 15 pounds. The reason for this is that when lifting heavy weights, your body tends to forcibly exhale against a closed glottis, which increases intrathoracic pressure and decreases venous return to the heart. Under nonpregnant physiological circumstances, this is ok but when pregnant, this could compromise oxygen delivery to your baby's developing organs.
Although there is inadequate research on strenuous exercise, athletes who continue to train at a moderate level during an uncomplicated pregnancy are considered safe. Basically, if you are an athlete or a generally active person, you can continue to exercise but at slightly lower intensity during pregnancy. If you are not an athlete and do not exercise regularly prior to pregnancy, you are encouraged to begin an exercise regimen. This will absolutely make both you and your baby healthy. You should be reasonable about the new regimen. As in, start at 15 minutes three days per week and work up from there, not to exceed 85% of your maximum heart rate. Before beginning an exercise regimen (as always, even when not pregnant), you should check with your doctor to make sure that you are otherwise healthy (i.e. that you do not have an abnormal cardiovascular or respiratory disease).
Non-strenuous exercise during the postpartum period has been shown to reduce postpartum depression. Because it is known that weight loss at a moderate pace does not reduce the milk supply, it is safe to resume exercise during the months of breastfeeding.
I hope you're going to make a Hub out of that info, meliss!
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