Exercise During Pregnancy

In one of the last classes I took for my major in exercise science, we were put into groups and then had to chose a condition and research the effect that exercise would have on it. My group was all girls so we decided to research the effects of exercise during pregnancy. None of us really knew what the exercise recommendations were for pregnant women and since we all wanted to be mothers at some point, we thought that this project would be pretty useful. This assignment was particularly helpful for me as I was pregnant with Eve about a week after we gave our presentation.

Me when I was 8 weeks pregnant
Even though I had this new knowledge about exercise, I wasn't the best at implementing it. For the first half of my pregnancy I didn't exercise as much as I should have. It was summer, I was taking summer classes, and the school gym was closed. This was particularly bad because I needed to take two gym glasses in my next semester, when I would be 6-9 months pregnant. John and I started going on walks to prepare myself for these classes. I ended up taking water aerobics and yoga. I'm lucky that I had the option of less intense exercise classes.

Me when I was 36 weeks pregnant
I wish that I had exercised regularly throughout my entir
e pregnancy. I definitely saw benefits from the exercise I did in the last few months of my pregnancy but it's not a good idea to begin exercising this late in a pregnancy.

If any of you are in the same boat as I was in before I did my research project (wanting to become pregnant someday in the not too distant future and not knowing about how you should exercise when pregnant), this post will help you become informed.

Before I start, I should say that this information was gathered from a series of studies that we read about. When you become pregnant, your doctor may give you different recommendations about exercise. Some doctors still recommend not letting your heart rate get about 140 bpm (this is pretty outdated). This is because there aren't any hard guidelines on exercise during pregnancy. I believe that the recommendations that I am going to provide are pretty consistent with what most doctors would approve of. My own doctor gave me similar recommendations. If you don't feel comfortable using the information I'm providing, talk to your doctor and follow their recommendations. Okay, let's get started.

Is exercising during pregnancy safe?
Yes, the majority of research shows that exercising, even vigorously, during pregnancy is safe for both the mother and the fetus.

Why should I exercise?
Exercising while pregnant will prevent:
- excessive weight gain
- weight retention after you give birth
- gestational diabetes
- complications during labor
- pre-term births
- constipation
- having a very large or very small baby
- preeclampsia
- postpartum depression
It will also help you to recover faster from childbirth

What type of exercise should I perform?
- Low impact
- Non weight bearing
- Aerobic endurance
- Ones that focus on large muscle groups

Can I do strength training?
Yes, but you should use light weights and perform a higher number of reps. Make sure not to hold your breath (you don't want to deprive your baby of oxygen)

How intense should the exercise be?
It should be about as intense as the exercise you did before you got pregnant. If you were working out at a high intensity before you got pregnant, you can still continue to exercise at the same level while you are pregnant. If you didn't exercise before you were pregnant, you will need to start out at a very gentle intensity and gradually increase the intensity over time. The important thing is not to jump into exercise that was much more intense than you performed before you were pregnant.
On a scale of 6-20, you should feel like your level of exertion while exercising is 13-16

If I didn't exercise regularly before I got pregnant what should I do?
You should start out by exercising for just 15 minutes a few times each week. You should gradually increase your time by 2 minutes until you reach 30 minutes. Your goal should be to perform 30 minutes of exercise, 4 days a week.

My Weight Loss Update
I'm down to 130 lb! Yay!
This means I've lost all my baby weight!
Now my goal is to reach 125 lb


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