Should I exercise during my pregnancy?

Should I exercise during my pregnancy?


 It’s a question I get asked a lot – and the truth is that there is no right answer. Every body and pregnancy is different. As a “mom-to-be”I urge you to listen to your doctor and your instincts.  With that said, most of the time, my answer is YES! We are meant to move, and our bodies, even during pregnancy, are far more resilient than we give them credit for. Unless you have a reason to believe otherwise, pregnancy is a critical time to keep moving and stay connected to your ever-changing body– which at times can feel like a stranger.

Current research disputes many of the past fears about exercising during pregnancy because functional changes from exercise complement or compensate for the body’s functional changes during pregnancy. According to Dr. James L Clapp and Catherine Cram, authors of Exercising Through Your Pregnancy, “In terms of concerns over the exercise stress reducing nutrients to the baby, changes in blood volume and vascular reactivity have been demonstrated to maintain blood flow to the placenta. The changes in ventilation and placental development combine with metabolism changes to improve availability of oxygen and energy-producing sugars for the baby’s growth. Improved ability to dissipate heat protects against thermal injury in normal temperature workout conditions.”
Benefits of exercises during pregnancy:

  • Regular exercise has been shown to offset the effects of pregnancy on ligamentous laxity, improve strength and help maintain muscle tone. Strength actually improves during pregnancy, but if you want your muscles to bounce back after pregnancy – then you have to use them during!
  • Provides much needed time for yourself to stay connected to yourself
  • May help prevent gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and cesarean delivery
  • Reduces constipation
  • Increases energy and improves mood
  • Aids in labor and delivery by strengthening the pelvic floor and TVA (transverse abdominis)
  • Helps improve posture and decreases low back pain that often occurs during pregnancy
What to look for in prenatal program?
First, make sure you are working with someone who is pre-and post-natal certified, and who is comfortable working with pregnant clients (i.e. has experience). There are also key issues your training program should focus on:

  • Strengthening your pelvic floor and TVA. Making those muscles as strong and flexible as possible greatly eases your baby’s entry into the world.
  • Addressing posture. During pregnancy, due to a shifting center of gravity and increased weight in the front of the body, women develop what is known as Kyphotic-Lordodic posture. This means you are overly rounded through the upper back and hyperextended in the low back. Stretching the lumbar spine, hamstrings, hip flexors and pectorals while strengthening the TVA, spinal extensors and upper back muscles is critical to minimizing this postural deviation that often causes discomfort and low back pain.
If you are looking for a great at home prenatal program (shameless plug!), we are excited to launch the newest addition to RB360 – RedBird Prenatal. This three class workout series is an intelligent, interesting way to stay connected to and continue to tone your body throughout pregnancy. The classes focus on issues important for moms-to-be: pelvic floor innervation, reducing low back pain, addressing postural issues common to pregnant women and improving the central nervous system to reduce stress on the body through functional brain training. Keep your arms and legs toned, stay vital, gain strength, improve your energy and enhance your sense of well-being throughout your pregnancy.
Precautions for exercise during pregnancy:

  • Never start a new exercise regimen during pregnancy. Only do what your body is already used to. If you weren’t a runner before getting pregnant, now is not the time to start training for your first 5K.
  • Avoid working out in hot or humid weather or if you have a temperature. While your bodies thermoregulatory system improves during pregnancy, you still need to be mindful of overheating.
  • Avoid overexertion.  Do not use a heart rate monitor during pregnancy to gauge exertion because they are inaccurate during pregnancy. Instead, ACSM recommends using a scale of perceived exertion. Keep your effort level between a 5 and 8 on a scale of 1-10. You should feel slightly tired but still be able to converse in full sentences.
  • Hydrate! Drink plenty of water to avoid overheating or dehydration.
  • Abdominal work of the rectus abdominus should be avoided after the first trimester, as should all exercises lying flat on your back.
  • Be mindful of your range of motion. During pregnancy laxity of ligaments increases, so try to strengthen the muscles surrounding the joints and avoid overstretching. Due to laxity of the joints, low impact cardio is recommended over high impact.
  • Avoid strong rotation of the pelvis and inversions after the first trimester.
  • Avoid standing still or lying flat on your back as much as possible. When you lie on your back, your uterus presses on a large vein that returns blood to the heart. Standing motionless can cause blood to pool in your legs and feet. Both of these positions can decrease the amount of blood returning to your heart and may cause your blood pressure to decrease for a short time.
  • Avoid strong contraction of the adductors (inner thighs) as the pelvis is malleable at the pubic symphysis joint where they attach.
  • Always start with a warm up and include a cool down that lasts at least 5 to 10 min
  • Just in case you didn’t know, avoid contact and extreme sports, scuba diving and skiing.

For more information about pregnancy guidelines visit: http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Exercise-During-Pregnancy


(1) Comments
  1. Amazing Blog,
    Should you be healthy, the chance of loss of moderate-intensity activity while pregnant are becoming low, , nor increase probability of low birth weight, pre-term delivery, or early pregnancy loss. Prior to continue your old workout routine or begin a fresh one, you’ll want to confer with your doctor about exercising if you’re pregnant.

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