If you’re a pregnant woman, or planning on getting pregnant, you may think to yourself, “I’m going to have to stop my exercise routine,” or “There’s no point in starting to exercise since I’ll be pregnant.”
It’s easy to understand why you may think you not be able to exercise. Your changing body and growing (and moving) baby inside certainly make it feel like maybe you shouldn’t be too active. That, combined with various other restrictions on diet and activities may make you believe exercise is another no-no.
However, you would be wrong.
In fact, a recent study at Johns Hopkins University published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology revealed that moderate exercise for non-active and active pregnant women and vigorous exercise for active pregnant women was perfectly safe for mother and child.
Exercise during pregnancy leads to fewer complications during pregnancy, as well as during labor and delivery. It helps prevent and relieve back pain that often comes with pregnancy. It also decreases the risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia/pregnancy-induced hypertension. In addition, exercise during pregnancy helps you develop the stamina and strength you’ll need during labor and delivery. Mentally, it decreases anxiety, lowers the chance of postpartum depression, and increases your energy level. All this – and it prevents you from gaining too much weight.
On the flip side, if pregnant women don’t exercise, they run the risk of gaining too much weight during pregnancy and increasing their chances of more serious complications including gestational diabetes, pregnancy-related high blood pressure and postpartum depression.
So if you’re pregnant or planning to be pregnant, in addition to nursery preparation and pediatrician selection, make sure you have exercise in your plans for the next nine months (and beyond).
Of course, before you start any exercise program, you should check with your doctor first. You may need to adapt your exercise plans if you have a history of preterm labor or other medical conditions.
Once you get your doctor’s approval, get on out there. If you already exercise, keep up with your regular plan. If you are new to exercise, start with the easiest form – walking. Depending on your fitness level, start at 10-30 minutes every day, gradually increasing the amount.
Some other great activities for pregnant women include running, cycling on a stationary bike, swimming, ballroom dancing (try to get those quiet moments with your partner in now), prenatal yoga and Pilates.
You may want to avoid activities such as scuba diving, contact sports and activities that have a high chance of falling – such as skiing, ice skating, rock climbing. However, if these are activities you do regularly, talk to your doctor about the risks.
Whichever activity you choose, make sure you remember to stretch, drink fluids and listen to your body. If you start feeling dizzy or light-headed, have chest or abdominal pain or any vaginal bleeding, stop right away and contact your doctor. However, rest assured that many pregnant women are able to exercise safely throughout pregnancy without these symptoms
In the end, remember the importance of exercise in your life. It is important not just for your health, but the health of your children. You will become a role model for the little one in your belly. Exercise today for your health and the health of your child tomorrow.