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Exercise during Pregnancy

Sunday, August 13 2017

There are many women who feel the need to stop exercising during pregnancy for fear of hurting the baby. But there is enough evidence out there to support the promotion of moderate to vigorous prenatal physical activity for maternal health benefits.

Tennis superstar Serena Williams was two months into her pregnancy when she won the Australian Open Championship in January. Women have successfully and safely participated in competitive sport activities while pregnant for years. Dr. Raul Artal, a member of the board of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, as a guest editor on Obstetric Practice said, “Pregnancy should not be looked at as a state of confinement. In fact, it is an ideal time for lifestyle modification. That is because more than any other time in her life, a pregnant woman has the most available access to medical care and supervision.” If you were not physically active before pregnancy it is an ideal time for maintaining or adopting a healthy lifestyle.

Why exercise during pregnancy.

• Physical activity in pregnancy has minimal risks and has been shown to bene_ t most women, although some modification to exercise routines may be necessary because of normal anatomic and physiologic changes and fetal requirements.

• At a time when your body looks like that of a stranger’s, you may wonder how this body can possibly be yours. By exercising you can increase your sense of control while boosting your energy level. You feel better as a result of the endorphins released during exercise.

• It assists in relieving backaches and improve your posture by strengthening and toning muscles in your back, butt, and thighs.

• It reduces constipation by improving the movement of food along the intestines.

• It prevents wear and tear on your joints (which become loosened during pregnancy due to normal hormonal changes) by activating the lubricating fluid in your joints.

• It aids you by relieving the stress and anxiety thereby making it easier to fall asleep.

• Exercise increases the blood flow to your skin, thereby making you look physical more attractive by giving you a healthy glow.

• It increases muscle strength and endurance which can greatly ease labor and delivery especially if you have a lengthy labor.

• Exercise will assist you in regaining your pre-pregnancy body more quickly. As you exercise during your pregnancy the probability of you gaining excess fat will be greatly reduced especially if you exercised regularly before pregnancy.

• Studies have shown that exercise may lower a woman’s risk of complications, like preeclampsia and gestational diabetes.

Most exercises are safe to perform during pregnancy, as long as you exercise with caution. Do not overdo it, and receive the green light from your health practitioner before doing any type of exercise.

The safest and most productive activities are swimming, brisk walking, indoor stationary bicycling and low-impact aerobics (taught by a certified aerobics instructor). These activities carry little risk of injury, bene_ t your entire body, and can be continued until birth. For women who do not wish to venture out of the comfort of their homes, especially closer to their due date, there are many exercise videos designed for pregnant women that can be purchased or viewed on-line.

Other activities such as jogging or running can be done in moderation. You may want to choose exercises or activities that do not require great balance or co-ordination, especially closer to your third trimester. Some women who have been actively weight-training continue to do so when they become pregnant. However, one must approach this with caution as your body goes through major changes during pregnancy, such as an increase in blood volume, by approximately 40 per cent. An increase in the heart rate also occurs as more blood has to be circulated, thus causing the heart to beat faster. Dizziness may also occur as a result of the additional pressure placed on the large veins in the back region that take blood back to the heart from the lower extremities. Workouts have to be tailored to your body’s changing needs, which we will discuss further in part two of this article.

We will also explore weight training and some of the major exercises that provide the biggest benefits to your new body.

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