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Reasons To Work Out While Pregnant

April 26, 2013

IMG_2070Week 28 – Our baby weighs 2.25 lbs and measures just under 15 inches, about the size of a large eggplant. (It’s getting harder to find veggies to match baby’s size. Soon I’ll be holding a grocery bag full of stuff.) My doctor’s appointments are becoming more frequent, every two weeks now. As I complain about my body getting sore during the night, my jolly Dr. Claus looks at me over his glasses and says “Jane, you are in your 3rd trimester. The pregnancy honeymoon is over now.”

To help with the soreness, I get my first prenatal massage with special bolsters to keep my belly lifted off the table. I used every bit of my grace and balance to climb onto the bolstered table. Once in position, there was no way for me to fully cover myself, so there I was, inadvertently mooning the masseuse as she entered back into the room. “Sorry, I could not reach the covers. I am a bit handicapped these days.” She laughed.

While at the gym, I have not been seeing many pregnant ladies (just my friend Nancy). This is bizarre to me since you can find them in flocks a mile down the street at Costco and Target. I realize I am not a typical case– clocking 9 hours of exercise a week at the start of my 3rd trimester – 3 hours resistance training (Body Pump), 4 hours of cardio (zumba and cycling) and 2 hours of yoga. For me, exercise is a must, like taking a prenatal vitamin or having 4 calcium servings per day. Here are the top ten reasons why exercise is extremely beneficial during pregnancy.

pregnancy walking

1. Strengthen your and baby’s cardiovascular system. While you exercise, your body pumps more blood and oxygen, which in turn benefits the baby’s development. Studies show that babies from exercising mothers tolerate labor better and get higher APGAR Scores (Activity, Pulse, Grimace, Appearance, Respiration) right after birth.

2. Reduce risk of gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes occurs in roughly 4% of all pregnancies. Because of hormonal changes, all women develop some level of glucose intolerance during pregnancy. Like with regular diabetes, exercise improves the body’s use of insulin which helps stabilize glucose levels.

3. Reduce risk of miscarriage. Studies have shown a 40% decrease in miscarriages in women that exercise during pregnancy.

pregnancy stretching

4. Reduce fatigue and increase energy. As little as half an hour of brisk walking will get your heart pumping, increasing the circulation of oxygen in your system which leads to a burst of energy. On the days I don’t exercise, I feel drained and more tired than after spending two hours at the gym.

5. Keep weight gain under control. Gaining too much weight during pregnancy can worsen pregnancy side-effects and lead to complications during delivery. Take Jessica Simpson, for example, who gained 80lbs and her baby was over 11lbs. Big babies are slower and harder to deliver. In some cases, natural delivery is not even an option. And of course, there are superficial reasons, like less stretch marks and getting back into your pre-pregnancy wardrobe sooner.

pregnancy weights

6. Buff up your upper body for baby caring. Weight training is a great choice during pregnancy as long as you go easy on the weight but increase repetitions instead. You still want to challenge yourself, especially the arms, so you feel a good burn. After all you’ll be carrying that perfect 8-20lbs bundle of joy for months to come. Add the car seat, diaper bag, stroller, etc. and you’ll be sporting Michelle Obama arms in no time.

pregnancy yoga

7. Prevent constipation. Whether it’s all the body movement or water consumption, after an hour of aerobic activity such as walking, cycling or weight lifting, things will start moving, which is highly desired when you are pregnant. Beats drinking prune juice.

8. Ease pregnancy aches and pains. I became a fan of yoga back when I was logging two digit weekly running mileage. My yoga appreciation has only intensified since getting pregnant. It’s the best way to stretch your back, hips, gluteus, hamstrings, and all those sore muscles.

pregnacy stability ball

9. Prepare your body and mind for labor. There is no doubt that labor and delivery are physically straining. They say “it’s a marathon” (I’ll let you know afterwards how it compares to an actual marathon). So I am treating it like an ultra-marathon by training for months beforehand to ensure my body is in the best shape and my mind can push beyond its limits even when I am exhausted.

10. Speed up postpartum recovery.  The more you work out, the better your body gets at recovering after exercise. The faster your muscles heal, the less sore you’ll be. The better your body gets at recovering, the faster it’ll bounce back after labor and the sooner you can get back to your pre-pregnancy shape.

[Jane Asks]: Did you exercise while pregnant? Would you?

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