Pregnancy and Exercise
Along with proper nutrition and a healthy lifestyle, one of the most important things you can do to benefit yourself and your baby during pregnancy is to exercise. Women who exercise regularly while pregnant have easier labor, deliveries and recovery time. They also experience less fatigue, reduced lower back pain, stress relief and weight management. The majority of pregnant women are able to exercise at a level appropriate to their stage of pregnancy, but you should always check with your doctor to make sure you have no risks or conditions that would prevent you from exercising safely.
Exercising during pregnancy is beneficial, but there are certain risks involved. It is important to use caution while exercising and to remember that the goal of exercising while pregnant is to maintain your physical condition rather than improve your fitness level. If you experience any of the following signs you should stop exercising; bloody discharge or any gush of fluid from the vagina, unexplained pain in the abdomen, persistent headaches, changes in vision, faintness or dizziness, marked fatigue, heart palpitations or chest pains and sudden swelling of your ankles, face or hands.
Warming up and cooling down for five to fifteen minutes should be included in any pregnancy exercise routine. The best warm up activity is one that is low intensity and has rhythmic activity, such as walking or riding a stationary bike. The warm up exercise should be followed by slow, controlled stretches before proceeding with a higher level of activity. A gentle cool down is also important, and again, each muscle group should be gently stretched. Also, make sure you drink plenty of water before, during and after exercising to reduce the risk of dehydration, which can raise your body temperature and cause harm to yourself and/or your baby.
The best way to decide how much and how often you should exercise during your pregnancy is to follow the FITT principle; Frequency, Intensity, Time and Type.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, women who are pregnant should not exercise for longer than 30 minutes. Even though you may feel good and you can keep going, your pregnant body can only handle so much. A good workout program at the beginning of your pregnancy is one that is performed three times a week.
Throughout your pregnancy, you should aim to exercise moderately. Again, the idea is not to improve your physical fitness, but rather to maintain it. Overtraining can be damaging to you and your body, as well as your baby's. Learn how to take your pulse, and do not exceed 140 beats per minute. If you find it difficult to talk while you are exercising, you might be exercising too heavily.
Whether you prefer to exercise during your pregnancy alone, or with a friend or group of friends, it's important to decide which type of activity you will enjoy. Some activities that pregnant women find helpful are swimming, walking, stair climbing, stationary cycling, and special prenatal aerobics and aquatic classes. Some of these activities such as walking and swimming can be done in moderation even up until the day you deliver.
The wrong exercises can actually cause harm, so it is important to do only those exercises that are known to be safe for both mom and baby. Pregnancy exercise videos will give you a safe, manageable workout routine that is appropriate for your stage of pregnancy. You can order pregnancy exercise videos featuring well known exercise personalities or your favorite celebrities.
Finding a pregnancy exercise that you enjoy and being able to fit into your schedule is important. You'll soon notice that once you start to experience the benefits of exercising during pregnancy, you'll want to continue to exercise regularly. Keep in mind that the best resource for exercise while pregnant will be your physician.
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