When it comes to what to expect when you are expecting, exercise and pregnancy is one topic that is more commonly inquired about than others. Join me as I take you through some of the facts and best practices to having a safe yet active pregnancy.
While it may not apply to you directly at this time, the information is great reference for friends, relatives and the future. Of course, if it does apply to you directly, definitely be sure to talk to your doctor regarding exercise and pregnancy to make sure it is safe for you as an an individual case to maintain an active lifestyle during your pregnancy.
Exercise and Pregnancy: Facts
30 minutes is the daily recommended amount of physical activity that gynecologists prescribe to pregnant women. This is to help strengthen muscles in preparation for labor, manage the associated weight gain and to keep you in high emotional spirits while sleeping better. Women who exercise throughout their pregnancy find it easier to shed baby weight postpartum.
Speaking of weight, the average recommended calorie intake increase for pregnant women is 300. Keep in mind that if you are exercising, you may need to increase this. Be sure to communicate with your doctor as they monitor your weight throughout your pregnancy and ask what is best for you.
Finally, in terms of the facts about exercise and pregnancy, be aware that your body will be producing increased levels of relaxin. This is a hormone that relaxes joints and ligaments. While you may find you are extra flexible, this can be dangerous and put you at greater risk for injury. Be aware of your range of motion, and attempt to keep it the same as before pregnancy.
Exercise and Pregnancy: Best Practices
Overall, physicians and fitness professionals agree that the best exercise for pregnant women is swimming. All the benefits of swimming regardless of childbearing apply, with the added features that it allows a feeling weightlessness for women carrying extra weight. Dancing, walking and group exercise classes such as low-impact aerobics are also recommended.
One myth is that women who are pregnant can not lift weights. If you participated in strength training activities prior to pregnancy, it can be difficult to face the loss of muscle development. Women are recommended to slow it down in terms of weight training as it relates to exercise and pregnancy. Take precautions to control your movements, reducing the amount of weight and instead increasing repetitions. Going back to the relaxin factor that we previously discussed, deep lunges, squats and other moves that place increased stress on joints and ligaments should be avoided.
In many cases, exercise and pregnancy are combined in classes specific for your situation. Be sure to check in with your local fitness studios to see if this is an option for you.