Exercising During Pregnancy

Jan 31, 2011

Written by Marcy Luna, Chapel Hill Personal Trainer @ O2 Fitness Chatham

Exercise during pregnancy is a topic that has many misconceptions.  The old guidelines suggested that women take it easy and eat for two.  That mentally leads to a lot of weight gain, a lot of discomfort, a lot of negative feelings, and a lot of risks for both the mother and the fetus.

Research shows that the benefits of exercising safely during pregnancy are enormous.  The most obvious results of engaging in physical activity are feeling better mentally, having more energy, and feeling stronger and healthier as the pregnancy progresses.  The bigger picture is a healthier pregnancy, including a lower chance of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, falling, and preterm labor.  Additionally, it means a lower chance of physical problems resulting from weak muscles and loose joints, and a much easier time getting back into the pre-pregnancy jeans.

It helps to start early and develop strength in preparation for the multiple changes that occur throughout the trimesters.  Keeping core muscles (including the lower back) strong is essential for preventing serious discomfort as the belly grows and requires support.  Strong legs and good circulation are fantastic results of exercise.  Who wants weak hip stabilizers when the hip joints are looser due to hormones?  Or ankles that swell up like sausages?   It can happen no matter what, but exercise can help to lessen some of these discomforts.

When mom exercises, she improves the oxygen- and nutrient-carrying capacity of her blood.  The fetus benefits from this just as the mom’s body does.  It is important to tailor an exercise program to an individual anytime, but certainly during pregnancy, so ask questions and get help.  The benefits to both mom and baby are numerous, and research keeps showing the remarkable ways that exercise and good health habits during pregnancy affect the fetus.  It is worth it to take the time to learn how to make prenatal fitness a priority!

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