Staying active throughout pregnancy has many benefits for both mom and baby. Exercise helps to speed recovery after delivery, reduce leg cramps, enlarge the placenta (and increase the nutrient base for your baby), reduce lower back pains, boost energy levels, decrease the likelihood of varicose veins, reduce the chances of a Caesarian section, and help with postpartum weight management….whew! That’s a heck of a lot of reasons!
Here are some great exercises for expecting moms:
*Â Swimming: Swimming is a low impact activity that does not put strain on your legs or ankles.Â Many YMCAs offer aquatic classes especially for pregnant women.
*Â Walking: This is a great, low impact exercise that you can do anywhere.Â You can even bring your husband or friend along!Â Try to walk during the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the direct sun and heat (and be sure to drink plenty of water!)
*Â Workout Videos: Videos are great because you can do them in the comfort of your own home and choose a workout especially for you (everything from strength training to pilates)!Â Here are two great videos: Leisa Hartâ€™s Fitmama Prenatal Workout andÂ 10 Minute Solution-Prenatal Pilates
* Strength Training:
– Continuing a strength training regimen during pregnancy helps to maintain muscle strength and endurance.Â This lean muscle is important because it can help compensate for posture changes and weight gain that occurs during pregnancy.
– In order to prevent injuries to yourself or your baby, precautions should be followed:
1. Increase the rest periods between sets to at least 2 minutes (this will regulate your body temperature and heart rate.)
2. Perform less repetitions at a lower weight (in order to avoid reaching muscular failure.)
3. Eliminate exercises where you have to lay down flat on your back (this position can decrease the blood flow to your uterus and baby.)
4. Eliminate exercises that may cause a loss of balance (such as squats and lunges.)
5. Eliminate traditional ab workouts where you lay on your back (to avoid abdominal trauma.)
6. Donâ€™t hold your breathe while exercising (this can prevent oxygen from reaching your baby.)
If you need some guidance, Self.com has a great workout video which features exercises and strength training tips just for pregnant women! However, remember to always consult your doctor first, and never push yourself to hard. Trust your body and how you are feeling (we know ourselves better than anyone!) In addition, the amount and type of exercise your body can handle depends on how active you were before the pregnancy.Â You should not try to increase the amount, duration, or intensity of your workouts during pregnancy: the goal is maintenance, not progression.
And when in doubt? Remember,Â your heart rate should never exceed 140 beats per minute, and your body temperature should never exceed 100 degrees Farenheit.
*Let Us Know: How did you stay fit while pregnant?
Want to get outside, feel fit or find new ways to tone your body? Cara Murphy will help you tap into your inner athlete, no matter where you are at in your life. To submit your own questions, comments and suggestions, please contact Cara at firstname.lastname@example.org.