Pregnancy and Exercise:
A woman’s body goes through many amazing changes when pregnant. All these changes are necessary to grow another human being: hormone levels change, you gain necessary weight, your posture changes to accommodate a growing fetus etc. Unfortunately, along with all the wonderful changes that occur, a lot of women experience at some point while pregnant or postnatal: low back pain, carpal tunnel, frequent headaches, and separation of the stomach muscles and some mild to severe bladder leakage. Most women greatly benefit from a gentle exercise program while they are pregnant. The general rule of thumb is that if you were physically active before, do not try to exercise at your current level, instead, you should be able to complete a moderate exercise program. Low impact aerobics are highly recommended as well as proper breathing techniques to help you during labour. Always make sure to discuss any exercise plans with your doctor or other health care provider. Certain medical conditions such as Asthma, Heart Disease or Diabetes can be considered contraindications for exercise. Stop your exercise program and consult your health care professional immediately if you have a low placenta, any bleeding or “spotting”, history of or possible miscarriage, history of premature labour, or a weak cervix, dizziness, sudden pain in you calf accompanied by redness and swelling, racing heart etc.
Benefits of exercise during pregnancy:
- Feeling better: When you think of all the changes your body goes through growing another human being, your self-esteem can use a boost! Exercise releases endorphins, helps relieve any back pain, improves your posture, helps reduce constipation, helps to lubricate your joints and prevent and overuse injuries and helps you to sleep better by helping to reduce stress and anxiety.
- Looking better: Exercise helps to increase blood flow to your organs and skin, giving you that healthy, pregnancy glow!
- Preparing the body for birth: It has been shown that a fit, strong cardiovascular system and strong muscles as well as flexible joints can greatly ease labour and delivery. In the event of a lengthy labour, your body will benefit from the improved endurance. Exercise programs that focus on proper breathing from the diaphragm can assist in pain management during labour.
- Getting back to normal post pregnancy: a key to exercise during pregnancy is to not expect to lose weight during your term, a common goal is to maintain your fitness as much as possible and to be able to regain your pre-pregnancy weight more quickly.
Commonly prescribed exercises for the pregnant woman:
- Stationary bicycling
- A step machine
- An Elliptical machine
- Low impact aerobics taught by a certified instructor.
- Jogging- in moderation and under the care of your health care professional.
Prenatal yoga- taught by a certified instructor