Exercise in Pregnancy

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by Erin Peterspregnant exercise

Is it safe? 

We all know that exercise improves muscle tone, strength and endurance, but is it safe during pregnancy?

Both the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend that pregnant women include exercise in their healthy lifestyle, as long as they have no medical or obstetrical complications. ACOG suggests a total of 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise every day, or on most days, throughout pregnancy.

Exercise in pregnancy can ease or eliminate aches and pains, leg cramps and circulatory challenges; strengthen pelvic floor muscles; and aid in the prevention of insomnia and pregnancy blues. In addition, exercise provides us with a better self-image, prepares our bodies for the physical journey of labour and birth, helps us retain our pre-pregnancy fitness levels and makes returning to our pre-pregnancy shape achievable.

Although many sources compare natural childbirth (involving no pain medications or interventions) to running a marathon, I don’t suggest you start there. Choose your activity by taking into account your fitness level, as well as common sense safety precautions. Brisk walks, stair climbing, swimming and downloadable prenatal workouts are fantastic low-impact and low- or no-cost options. If you can afford to invest a little and you feel social, a group class like water aerobics, prenatal yoga or prenatal dance might be the perfect fit. Classes also allow you to meet other moms-to-be.

Now that you’re excited to get moving, don’t forget to prepare yourself well. Avoid overheating by wearing breathable, layered clothing; drink generous amounts of water before, during and after exercise to stay hydrated; wear comfortable running shoes with proper support for your ligaments and tendons; and, most importantly, know your limits but have fun!

Erin Peters, the director of Beauty-Well Inc. (www.beauty-well.ca), has been a maternal and infant wellness advocate for more than a decade. She is a certified prenatal childbirth instructor, birth doula, postpartum doula and lactation educator currently practicing in Grande Prairie, Alberta, using her knowledge to support families through pregnancy and beyond. She loves spending her free time with her husband and three children and freelance writing.

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