In honor of February’s Heart Health Month, I share with you how to keep yourself and your baby healthy during pregnancy! We are fortunate enough to now know that exercise is a wonderful thing for both mom and baby during pregnancy. Gone are the days of yore, when pregnancy was seen as a state of sickness. Finally, we are blessed to be in a time where exercise is actually encouraged!
Believe it or not, virtually every ache, pain and discomfort that goes along with pregnancy can be alleviated or lessened with exercise. In fact, most women can continue their pre-pregnancy routine throughout their pregnancy (although they may have to make certain modifications to make it more comfortable). What is most important is that you create a workout that is geared towards your pregnancy; one that keeps you both safe and your body balanced. It is imperative I suggest here, that ALL pregnant women should get their doctors approval before beginning ANY exercise program (same goes for postpartum exercise).
Moderate physical activity is recommended on most if not all days of the week. So what does “moderate” mean? Well, moderate is equivalent to walking about 3-4 miles p/hour. Higher intensity workouts are considered safe 3-5 days p/week, but not recommended 2 days in a row. Women who exercised before pregnancy can continue throughout., however, if you are new to exercise it is imperative that you start off at a very low level and build up slowly. What is most important in developing your exercise routine is CONSISTENCY! A great starting point for pregnant moms is 3 times per week, gradually working their way up to 4-5 times per week. Again ladies, use your common sense, and speak to a medical provider BEFORE initiating any exercise program.
You can choose both cardiovascular and strength workouts, but be sure to focus on activities that will adjust for postural changes during your pregnancy. Just about any aerobic activity is appropriate IF it’s comfortable! For example, non-weight bearing exercises like swimming or biking are great and may even become more comfortable in the later stages of your pregnancy. Exercises that pose a risk of falling (skiing or mountain biking) or trauma to the abdomen (contact sports) are definitely not recommended due to possible injuries.
The general consensus amongst experts is that sessions of 30-60 minutes of activity are appropriate for prenatal exercise. The two primary concerns in regards how long you should exercise (over 45 minutes) are energy deficit (Calories in VS Calories out) and thermoregulation (keeping your body temperature within a certain boundary). Another important note when considering energy deficit: gone are the days of “eating for two.” New recommendations are simply to eat to your appetite. What is necessary is that you make sure you are taking in enough calories when you are exercising, particularly for long sessions. Again, exercise is a wonderful thing! Done in moderation, with your physician’s approval, exercise will not only prepare you for the activity that comes along with future motherhood, but also provide you and your growing baby with both comfort, and relief, during this special, amazing and unique time in your life!