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Exercising When You're Expecting†

Moms-to-be were once told to take it easy—but times have changed.

Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that healthy pregnant women engage in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week. The idea is to maintain your fitness level, gain weight more manageably and help keep your blood sugar levels in the healthy range.

Many women agree. Sarah Canney of Farmington, New Hampshire, calls childbirth “an athletic event. Exercising during pregnancy helped prepare me for the actual event.”

Exercise can help ease aches and boost energy levels, and offers an outlet for mental stress, too. “When there’s another human being inside you, it can feel like everything you do is for them,” says Canney. “It was nice to have something that was for me.”

Starting an Exercise Program

If you have a regular fitness routine, it’s okay to continue as long as you feel well, eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of water.

If you don’t exercise much right now, it’s still a good time to move more by gradually building up the length and intensity of your workouts. Prenatal online Pilates classes can help you build core strength and decrease risk of back and pelvic area pain.

Experts also recommend strength training using bodyweight exercises, resistance bands or weights. “Keeping a mom strong can make the rehabilitation easier,” says physical therapist Abby Bales, DPT.

Other tips for exercise-minded moms-to-be include:

  • Find an online prenatal exercise class. Instructors can make sure you perform exercises safely and offer modifications.
  • Use the “talk test”: Being able to talk but not sing while exercising indicates a moderate activity level.
  • Steer clear of activities where there is a risk of falling.
  • Avoid lying on your back for more than a few moments. It can hinder the flow of blood back to your heart.
  • Stay hydrated. If you feel lightheaded or dizzy, drink some water.

When to Be Careful

Doctors recommend against exercise for women with certain medical issues, such as those with heart problems, anemia or pregnancy-related disorders such as preeclampsia. Always consult with your healthcare practitioner before starting an exercise program.

You should also talk to your doctor if something doesn’t feel right. “If you feel contractions or experience vaginal bleeding or leakage of amniotic fluid, it’s a sign to stop,” says Jaclyn Bonder, MD, of NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. Chest pain, balance problems or decreased fetal movement are also red flags.

Even when it comes to the more common effects of exercise, how you feel while working out may change as your pregnancy progresses. “It’s important to listen to your body,” says Bonder. “If something hurts, learn to modify it or decrease the frequency.”

†The information provided is not an endorsement of any product, and is intended for educational purposes only. NaturesPlus does not provide medical advice and does not offer diagnosis of any conditions. Current research on this topic is not conclusive and further research may be needed in order to prove the benefits described.

**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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