Separating FACT from FICTION: Exercising During Pregnancy

Congratulations, you’re having a baby! After you get over the initial shock, excitement and wonder, you will likely begin to plan and prepare your mind, body & spirit for the new adventure of motherhood. Pregnancy is an ideal time to establish healthy habits regarding exercise and nutrition. Here’s what you need to know to help keep you and your baby happy and healthy!

Myth

You have to wait until after your first trimester before you begin exercising

Fact

You can begin exercising anytime during your pregnancy in the absence of contraindications. Women with uncomplicated pregnancies are encouraged to engage in both cardio and strength resistance training before, during and after their pregnancy. In fact, the ACOG recommends that pregnant women get at least 20-30 minutes of moderate-intense aerobic activity each day (or most days).

Myth

You need to keep your heart rate below 140bpm

Fact

We've learned that heart rate checks are not the most accurate method of evaluating intensity. Sometimes a very fit woman may have an elevated heart rate with a lower perceived intensity, while an unfit pregnant woman may have a lower heart rate doing the exact same activity, but who feels her level of intensity is much higher. It is safer and more accurate to measure perceived exertion and follow the ‘talk test’. A pregnant woman should be able to carry on a conversation wile exercising. So, can you sing the ABC’s while you squat?

Myth

You can’t train your core during pregnancy

Fact

Core Strength is essential for maintaining muscular balance and preparing for the pushing phase of labour. However, it is important to train it correctly! You should avoid certain exercises like crunches, neutral plank and twisting work. Replace those exercises with side plank, belly breathing and isometric abdominal work and you will go a long way to keeping your core strong throughout your pregnancy.

Myth

If you have never exercised before you should not start during pregnancy

Fact

Physical inactivity during pregnancy is a leading risk factor for pregnancy complications like high blood pressure and gestational diabetes. It may also lead to excessive weight gain which can further complicate your overall health. For most women, the benefits of regular exercise will outweigh any risk.  If you have never been active before, then start slowly, find a qualified instructor who specializes in working with the prenatal populations and start a new habit today!

Last thoughts

Remember, physical activity is an essential element of a healthy lifestyle. Women who exercise throughout their pregnancy have healthier babies, reduce their risk of pregnancy complications, manage weight gain and enhance their mental well being. What are you waiting for? Join a prenatal fitness class near you!

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