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Exercise Rules!

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Pregnant women benefit from moderate levels of exercise

You may be familiar with the advice often given to pregnant women: if you were inactive before conception, pregnancy is not the time to start a workout routine. However, due to the unhealthy effects of a sedentary lifestyle, these recommendations were updated by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) in 2015. Unfortunately, many pregnant women still fail to reach suggested exercise levels as they are uncertain as to what is considered safe.

Researchers from Camilo Jose Cela University in Spain have found that a major benefit of starting an exercise routine, even for previously sedentary women, significantly reduced gestational weight gain. Getting your heart rate elevated has also been linked to lowering risk of gestational diabetes, cesarean delivery, high blood pressure and lower back pain during pregnancy. They also found no risk for premature birth, low birth weight, or fetal distress associated with exercise. The ACOG guidelines encourage all women without contraindication to follow the same exercise guidelines as adults who are not pregnant. In other words, it’s okay to participate in moderate aerobic activity and strength training about 30 minutes per day, most days of the week. Wondering what moderate means? In this case employ the talk test. If you can carry on a conversation while performing these exercises, you’re likely not overdoing it!  The exercises to avoid are “strenuous” and may result in dehydration, increase risk of fall or reduce blood flow, compromising the health of the baby - think long distance running, isometric training, jumps and high impact exercises.

If low impact exercises such as walking or swimming may be your speed it’s recommended to do 30 minutes 3-5 days per week. If strength exercises are more your thing, (think resistance bands, dumbbells etc), 15-20 minutes 3-5 days a week should be the goal.  If you’re into both, limit yourself to the recommendations above for 3-4 days per week maximum.

Note: If you weren’t exercising prior to pregnancy, speak with your doctor before starting a new routine. Even if you were exercising, its still a good idea to have a conversation with your doc about what is best for you and your baby.

Published May 1, 2018

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