Congratulations, you're pregnant! Now is the time to prepare to welcome your baby into this world, starting with preparing your body. Yes, your body should be prepared so you can enjoy every minute of your pregnancy, and you can help achieve this by exercising. Exercising during pregnancy greatly benefits you, and your baby. The American Dietetic Association's Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, lets us know about these benefits during this very important stage in your life. In addition, we offer some tips on how to exercise safely.
It is important that you discuss your plans to begin or change an exercise routine with your health care provider before doing so.
Benefits of Exercising During Pregnancy
- It helps you to feel good about yourself and full of energy as your body changes and your baby grows.
- Strengthens and tones your muscles making you feel stronger during pregnancy and after giving birth.
- Exercising reduces many discomforts that begin during pregnancy, such as constipation , back and leg pain, and swelling of the feet.
- You will sleep and rest better at night, reducing stress that a new pregnancy may bring.
- Exercise promotes good blood circulation making you feel refreshed, and also helps prevent varicose veins that tend to appear during pregnancy due to the weight of the baby.
- During labor, the increased strength of your muscles and lungs gained through exercise will help childbirth go smoother.
- You'll bounce back into your pre-pregnancy body faster, keeping yourself healthy and active.
Despite the advantages, you should be very careful with what type of exercises you do. Some tips to keep in mind when you start or continue an exercise routine include:
- Talk to your doctor about the possibility of continuing or starting an exercise routine that will benefit you, without harming you or your baby.
- Exercising during pregnancy will help you stay healthy and energetic; don't work out to lose weight.
- Consider low-impact exercises such as walking, swimming, stationary bike riding, aerobics, yoga or pilates.
- Don't forget to warm up and stretch before and after working out in order to avoid injuries to muscles and joints which can be weakened during pregnancy.
- Stay away from high-impact workouts or those that put you at risk of falling or hitting your abdomen such as martial arts, jumping, crunches or skiing.
- Remember to stay well-hydrated. Drink water before, during and after exercising.
- It's best to work out in air conditioned places, or during the coolest time of the day.
- Protect your breasts using a supportive bra.
- Stop if you feel very tired, dizzy, short of breath, or if you feel any pain, and remember to tell your doctor.
- Start slowly and increase your work outs as you strengthen your muscles and resistance.
- During pregnancy, the American Dietetic Association Food Guide recommends you exercise at least 30 minutes most days, if not every day of the week.
Now that you know how good you'll feel exercising during pregnancy, get ready and start your routine today.
Sources:Larson, R., American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide. 3 rdedition, revised & updated. 2006. pp 449-451
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