Being pregnant no longer means a woman is in a “delicate condition.”
In fact, many expectant moms work to plan workout times around other important pregnancy plans like prenatal appointments, child birthing classes and preparing the new baby’s nursery
Experts debunk previous pregnancy fitness myths
Past warnings to pregnant women about the increased chance of injury, the negative impact of elevated heart rates, and serious abdomen injury have led many moms-to-be second guessing their active lifestyles.
Pregnant women may worry about if they should cut back on exercise due to fatigue, discomfort and even concerns about possible complications. However, medical and fitness experts agree — pregnancy and exercise make a healthy combination.
“Pregnancy should not be looked at as a state of confinement,” according to Raul Artal, MD, primary author of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist’s official committee opinion on obstetric practice. “In fact, it is an ideal time for lifestyle modification.”
ACOG’s findings also declares “physical activity in pregnancy has minimal risks and has been shown to benefit most women, although some modification to exercise routines may be necessary because of normal anatomic and physiological changes and fetal requirements.”
Research indicates pregnancy fitness:
· Helps with weight management
· Can relieve backaches
· Reduces the risk of gestational diabetes in obese women
· Reduces fatigue
· Builds stamina for labor and delivery
Which exercises do health and fitness experts recommend for pregnant women? Here’s are five activities considered effective and safe for mom-to-be and baby.
Lacing up the sneakers and taking a stroll is one of the best ways to exercise for anyone, whether she is a fitness rookie or activity ace. It can be done almost anywhere and is a safe way to build cardio endurance and tone muscles. FitPregnancy.com recommends using a treadmill because it helps pregnant women control their walking conditions (speed, hills, etc.) and customize their workouts based on their changing body needs.
According to WebMd.com, swimming is easy on joints and helps with swollen ankles. The water’s buoyancy also makes the body feel lighter, no matter how far along a woman is in her pregnancy journey. Whether it’s swimming laps, taking a low-impact water aerobics class or water walking, getting in the pool provides a perfect workout.
Prenatal yoga classes leads moms-to-be through gentle stretches, breathing exercises and various poses to build flexibility, relaxation and breath control — which can help a woman through the rigors of labor and delivery. The Mayo Clinic website warns against participating in the trendy hot yoga classes because it can cause hyperthermia, an unsafe rise in body temperature. Also, pregnant women should use props such as blankets, cushions and belts to maintain comfort during class.
This doesn’t mean pregnant women should be bench-pressing big barbells. However, fitness Tracey Mallett shares healthy guidelines for lifting weights while carrying a little one in a Babycenter.com column:
· Less weight, more reps: too much weight can damage sensitive joints. Focus on doing more repetition with smaller weights. Mallet recommends 15 pounds for 15 to 20 leg presses and 8 pounds for 15 to 20 chest presses.
· Avoid walking lunges: this helps to avoid pelvic injury
· Use resistance bands: this reduces the risk of abdomen injury from free weights.
· No lifting while flat on the back: Lying on the back puts pressure on a major vein known as the vena cava. More pressure means less blood flow to the mom’s brain and uterus. Lift on an incline to avoid this issue.
ACOG recommends stationary cycling for pregnant women because it can increase energy levels, reduce back pain and help promote quality sleep. Transitioning from regular bicycle to a stationary one reduces the risk of injuries from falls. When using a stationary bike, try to find one with a comfortable seat that offers adequate support. Pregnant women may also want to consider finding a recumbent bicycle to make them more comfortable and relieve pressure on the back.
Pregnant women should always consult their doctor before starting any new exercise routine.