Sunday, November 30, 2014

Exercise & Pregnancy: Why it’s beneficial and what you can do

Exercising during pregnancy can be beneficial in many ways, not only by keeping certain pregnancy conditions at bay but also by making you feel better about yourself. Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t put away the gym sneakers just yet.

  • Energy Booster- Pregnancy can wipe you out, consuming most of your daily energy to complete tasks. Even small bouts of exercise can make you feel energized. With muscles that are strong and toned, you need less effort to engage in any activity, whether that means grocery shopping or sitting through meetings at the office.  According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), you can safely take part in 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise every day, as long as you don't have a medical condition or complication that your doctor or midwife has told you rules out exercise or limits your activity level.

  • Better Sleep- When you're carrying an extra 15 pounds (or more!) in front of you, finding a comfortable sleeping position can be a real challenge. But exercise will help you work off any excess energy and tire you enough to lull you into a more restful sleep.

  • Reduce Discomfort- Stretching and strengthening can better help the body adjust to the normal aches and pains of pregnancy. For example: Stretches ease back pain, walking improves your circulation, and swimming can strengthen your abdominal muscles.

  • Preparation for childbirth- The better shape you’re in, the better off you’ll be when you go in to labor. The birthing process takes strength, stamina and determination.  Exercising while pregnant can ease and shorten the length of delivery.

  • Reduces stress- Having a child is a life changing event that brings about so many emotions, experiencing highs and lows. It’s been found that exercise boosts levels of serotonin, a brain chemical linked to mood, putting you in better spirits.

  • Improving self-image- Staying active helps you feel better about yourself and improves your odds of gaining a healthy amount of weight.

  • Your body after childbirth-When you've maintained your strength and muscle tone all through your pregnancy, your body will have an easier time bouncing back after you give birth. You’ll also gain less surplus weight if you exercise during your pregnancy.

Some of the best exercises to start or stick with are walking, low impact aerobics, swimming, prenatal yoga and stretching, whether you’re a beginner to the exercise world or have been active all along.

If you exercised regularly before getting pregnant and your pregnancy is uncomplicated, you can most likely continue working out as before. In some cases it's not okay to exercise during pregnancy, though, so talk to your doctor or midwife about your fitness routine to make sure your activities don't put you or your baby at risk.

Blog post by Farran Jalbert.

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