Sensible Exercise Provides Benefits Through Pregnancy

WITNESS TO FITNESS

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Exercise plays an important role in promoting health for everyone.

During the past couple of years we've talked about the effects that exercise has on men, women, children and seniors. Today we are going to talk about some guidelines for exercising during pregnancy.

Women who exercise during pregnancy often reduce weight gain and shed extra pounds more rapidly after pregnancy than women who don't exercise. They show improved mood and better sleep patterns. Some studies also have shown faster labors and less need to induce labor with women who exercise regularly during pregnancy. Women who exercise during pregnancy also are less likely to require anesthesia or Cesarean sections.

It is important to remember that pregnancy is a complex condition. Some special precautions need to be taken to ensure that your exercise program does not cause complications or contribute to existing problems.

Following are some simple guidelines given by the medical community that you can follow to help ensure the safety and well-being of both you and your baby:

If you have been following a regular exercise program prior to your pregnancy, you should be able to maintain that program to some degree throughout your pregnancy. Exercise will not increase your risk for miscarriage.

If you are just starting an exercise program, you should start very slowly and be careful not to over exert yourself.

Listen to your body. Your body will naturally give you signals that it is time to reduce the level of exercise you perform.

Never exercise to the point of exhaustion or breathlessness. This is a sign that your baby and your body cannot get the oxygen they need.

Wear comfortable shoes that give strong ankle and arch support.

Take frequent breaks and drink plenty of fluids during exercise.

Avoid exercising in extremely hot weather.

Avoid rocky terrain or unstable ground when walking or cycling. Remember that your joints are more lax during pregnancy and sprains or other injuries are more likely to occur.

Avoid lifting weights above your head and performing exercises that strain the lower back.

During the second and third trimesters, avoid exercise that involves lying flat on your back. This decreases blood flow to your womb.

Include relaxation and stretching both before and after your exercise program.

Eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of fluids, vegetables and complex carbohydrates.

As always, be sure to consult your doctor prior to beginning any exercise program. And be sure to bring to their attention any difficulties you encounter. When done safely and appropriately, exercise is a wonderful benefit to you while you carry and give birth to your new family member.

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