Being pregnant does not give you license to stop working out or watching what you eat. In fact, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists highly recommends getting at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. Maintaining a toned body through exercise and diet during pregnancy helps to keep it limber, ensures appropriate weight gain and prepares it for labor and delivery. Furthermore, staying fit can reduce general body aches and relieve stress.
Dr. Keith Eddlemann, director of obstetrics at Mt. Sinai Hospital, reports that the woman who remains active throughout her pregnancy is more physically fit, which usually results in an easier labor and delivery. If you were active before you got pregnant, performing low-impact exercises to keep your muscles strong and toned poses little to no risk. If you were not physically active pre-pregnancy, start out slowly with five minutes of exercise each day until you are able to exercise for 30 minutes at a stretch. Swimming is one of the most beneficial exercises for pregnant women. Not only is swimming a safe workout, but it can ease back pain and prevent swelling. Brisk walking offers a total body workout, and it’s relatively easy on the joints. Stationary cycling is a better alternative to biking, as it reduces the risk of falls and other injuries.
Listen to Your Body
Extremely active women might need to modify their exercise program as their pregnancy progresses. Running is generally safe. However, you should listen to your body and stop exercising if you ever feel faint or dizzy, or if you experience any bleeding or cramping. Sports that require a sudden change in position or balance, such as tennis and racquet ball, are fairly safe but more difficult to play the bigger you get. Don’t overdo it. Strength training keeps the muscles toned and can even relieve body aches and pains, but take it easy. Before performing any exercises, speak with your health care provider to make sure there are no underlying conditions that preclude you from doing them.
When you think about keeping toned during pregnancy, chances are Kegel exercises don’t cross your mind. Performing Kegel exercises tones the muscles of the bladder, uterus and bowels, and it promotes relaxation and control of these muscles during labor and delivery. To perform Kegel exercises, imagine trying to stop urine flow. Practice five sets of 10 Kegels each day, holding for a count of 5. With Kegel exercises, you can do them anywhere, and no one will notice.
Exercise alone can only do so much to keep your body toned during pregnancy. Although you might be tempted to indulge your cravings for hot fudge sundaes or nachos for the next nine months, eating a variety of healthy foods will keep excess weight gain to a minimum. The March of Dimes recommends pregnant women consume an extra 300 calories a day. If you begin your pregnancy at a normal weight, expect to gain 25 to 35 lbs.
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