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Benefits of exercise on PREGNANCY

Aug 11, 2015

I'm going to step outside of my regular box of "knowledge" and touch on a subject that I have recently gotten interested in...pregnancy--specifically related to exercise. And, before you jump to any conclusions, it's not for myself! My interest lies in working with clients that have a little one on the way or that may have just delivered their little bundle of joy. I've become so interested that I've decided to expand my list of credentials to include a certification specifically for pre- and post-natal fitness.

Often times women who become pregnant think that this is a time that they can freely eat whatever they want and move as little as possible, all for the "health of the baby." Yes, you have to eat enough to support the health of the baby and your overall health when you're pregnant. But, eating mindfully and staying active are the keys to a healthy pregnancy, delivery and "bounce back" afterwards. Today I want to highlight some of the major measurable benefits of exercise during pregnancy.

  • Healthy weight gain and fat accumulation. Continuing exercise during and throughout pregnancy has a great influence on how much weight gain and fat deposition occurs during those nine months. Women who exercise during their pregnancies gain less overall weight and stay leaner than their counterparts who opt against exercise while pregnant. This doesn't mean that women who exercise are underweight or are undernourished! This simply means that the weight they gain is within a healthy range and doesn't exceed what is recommended. It also means that losing the "baby weight" is a lot easier once the baby is born. Most importantly, women who exercise and stay leaner during their pregnancies often have a much more positive body image than those that don't exercise and gain too much weight.
  • Less pregnancy-related discomfort and risk of injury. Exercise and working out during pregnancy helps maintain strength and support in the muscles in the lower back, legs and pelvic floor--all of which are areas that tend towards discomfort particularly during the later months of pregnancy. Women who regularly exercise while pregnant also tend to experience easier, shorter, and less complicated labors.
  • Labor and delivery benefits. Studies show a marked decrease in the need for all types of medical intervention for women who exercise while pregnant. Some of these include a decreased need for pain relief, decreased need to artificially rupture membranes, decreased need to either induce or stimulate labor via drugs, decreased need for episiotomy (a cut to make the "nether region" larger for delivery of the baby), and decreased need for operative intervention including forceps or C-section.
  • Maternal fitness and physical performance. Women who exercise regularly during pregnancy maintain positive attitudes about themselves, their pregnancies, and their upcoming delivery. In addition, women who start relatively low-volume exercise during pregnancy tend to see an increase in their exercise stamina. Women who are active prior to and continue through pregnancy and postpartum can experience increases in their aerobic capacity even though once they have the baby their routines and responsibilities change!

These are just the nuts and bolts when it comes to the benefits that regular exercise during pregnancy can provide. In my opinion, if for no other reason, women should exercise during pregnancy simply to make their deliveries more swift and less risky. Because who really wants to spend more time on that portion of the experience!

If you or someone you know is pregnant and is interested in beginning or maintaining an exercise program during pregnancy, it's important to have a knowledgeable professional help to guide you in the right direction. This is probably the most important time to work with someone who knows all the ins and outs of exercise during pregnancy, since you're not just working out for yourself...you've got baby in tow!

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