Contrary to popular belief, pregnancy is no reason to adapt a sedentary lifestyle. Provided you are having a normal pregnancy, doing weight bearing exercises will actually help with weight management, reduce the chances of gestational diabetes, reduce lower back pain, reduce the chances of preeclampsia, and reduce the incidence of varicose veins. Other benefits include easier labor, enhanced body image, better psychological well being, and improved fetal development.
Nearly 60 percent of women are sedentary during pregnancy and this number only gets larger through the third trimester. Pregnant women who remain active during pregnancy gain 20 percent less weight than those who choose to be sedentary (clapp, et al 1995). Women who gain more than the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy are usually heavier over the long term. Routines should be based on expectant mother’s current fitness level and goals. Of course the safety of the fetus is most important which is why you should be pre-screened prior to beginning any exercise program while pregnant. Provided you have no contraindications, there is no reason you can’t participate in moderate strength training and cardiovascular training throughout your pregnancy. It is recommended that you workout with a qualified trainer who can design a safe and effective program designed to fit your individual needs. Avoid contact sports and vigorous jarring motions and stay hydrated. The idea here is not to exhaust yourself, but to maintain your strength and fitness levels. While it is natural to gain some additional body fat throughout the pregnancy it is not necessary to lose muscle. Remember for every pound of lean mass you have you burn an additional 50 calories a day at rest. For example, if you were to lose just 5 pounds of muscle over a 9 month pregnancy, you would be burning 250 calories a day less than you would if you had maintained that muscle content.
Besides the many benefits to the mother there are also benefits to the baby. Studies have repeatedly shown that prenatal exercise has a positive impact on the fetus. James F. Clapp, et al (2000) found that children born to women performing weight bearing exercise were longer and had more lean body mass than children born to sedentary women. The positive effects of exercise also extend into the post natal period. Children born to women who have performed exercise throughout pregnancy have exhibited signs of heightened attentiveness and discipline and by the age of 5 have been found to be neurodevelopmentally advanced. These results are attributed to regular exercise which increases blood volume and placental function, thus increasing the delivery of nutrients to the fetus which aids in development.
Another benefit is enhanced body image. Unfortunately there is an increased incidence of negative body image throughout pregnancy. This can lead to depression which can last throughout the pregnancy as well as postpartum. Exercise helps women have a positive body image which aides in strength, confidence, and a woman’s overall well being. So if you’re like most women and you’re having feelings of fear, self doubt, and anxiety about becoming pregnant or the effects it will have on your body and your baby’s development, do yourself a favor and consult a doctor and a qualified trainer to design a program designed to fit your individual needs and goals. Remember, be a healthy mom and it will help you have a healthy baby.
Post by Jason Rodriguez
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