After years of watching your weight, it's sometimes hard to let go of the obsession and let your body adjust in a healthy way to carrying a new life inside it. But sometimes we swing the pendulum a bit too far the other way. So where's the healthy medium when it comes to exercise. Should a fitness routine be part of your antepartum months? Absolutely! Unless your OB advises against it, you'll find there are countless benefits to exercising during pregnancy, even when you can no longer see, much less touch, your toes!
Let's look at what exercise can do for you:
- No lullabies needed; moderate exercise helps you get a good night's sleep. While in the past you may have reached for a glass of wine to help you unwind at the end of a long day, the simple truth is that exercise might have been a better option. Why? Because exercise unleashes endorphins, which makes you feel naturally more relaxed and less stressed. Plus, since endorphins are a natural pain killer, your little aches and pains will fade away.
- Strengthening your back through exercise will help relieve some of the extra strain on your back that results from carrying the extra weight.
- Exercising makes your heart happy. By toning up your heart muscle, it'll be better equipped to deal with the increased volume of blood that's flowing these days.
- Constipation can be a major discomfort during pregnancy. Well, the good news is that exercise can keep you regular. That should be motivation enough!
First of all, avoid all strenuous workouts and stay away from any sports requiring a sense of balance and dexterity. No horseback riding or skiing. Extra pregnancy pounds = less coordination. Also, skip long-distance running, weight training and serious aerobics. This isn't the time to check out all the exercise videos you bought through the years and never got around to watching/doing.
If you've been seriously into exercise before your pregnancy, speak with your OB about what kind of activity would be right for you.
Since the goal is to get the heart pumping into the uterus, try one or more of the following moderate exercises:
- Low-impact aerobics. A beginner's program at your local community center or YWCA would be an ideal start.
- Swimming is another good option. Of course, you want to avoid showing off on the diving board...and no bellyflops!
- A stationary bike can help make even reality tv worth your time. It sure beats vegging out on the sofa with a bag of potato chips!
- Walking is the most obvious choice when it comes to healthy exercise for pregnant women. The fact that it's an activity you can do for free adds another aspect of desirability to it. Make sure you're properly fitted for a good pair of supportive walking shoes, however. Grab your .mp3 player and download Jodi Picoult's newest book or some upbeat music. You'll find 20 minutes of walking a few times a week not nearly enough to feed your new addiction!
So c'mon. Turn off the computer and get your blood pumping. You'll thank me for it someday.
Keeping it healthy,