For Most Moms-to-Be, Exercise is Safe and Beneficial
SIOUX FALLS (Sept. 1, 2012) - A mom-to-be has many questions, which may include, Can I exercise? Is exercising safe during pregnancy? Although there are certain cautions for women who are pregnant, being active and exercising during your pregnancy can hold many benefits for both you and your baby.
Dr. Annie Siewert, OB/GYN with Avera Medical Group Obstetrics & Gynecology Sioux Falls, is a firm believer in the benefits of exercise for women who are pregnant. Besides the physical improvements that can result from exercise, Dr. Siewert says that for women who are pregnant, it can also “help you sleep, improve your mood, and increase your energy level.” It is also well known that exercising while pregnant will reduce the risk of developing gestational diabetes.
Furthermore, being active throughout your pregnancy can help your body prepare for the physically demanding labor process. According to Dr. Siewert, “Labor is a marathon in itself and exercising can help you gain the stamina and strength that could help you during labor.”
Marne’ Schelling believes remaining active and exercising frequently during her last pregnancy helped her have a fast and safe delivery when she gave birth to her son, Layton. Marne’ recommends exercising throughout pregnancy as a mother, a woman expecting her second child in November, and a trainer at the Avera McKennan Fitness Center. As a trainer, she has worked with pregnant women of various fitness levels from experienced to novice. “The intensity of your recommended exercise program largely depends on your past workout regimen,” she says.
When asked if it is safe to start exercising while pregnant, Dr. Siewert answers with a definite yes. “Even if you are just getting started it will be highly beneficial for you. Start with five minutes a day, and keep adding five more. It doesn’t seem like much, but it makes a big difference.” The recommendation for most people is 30 minutes of activity every day and it is the same during pregnancy. However, this 30-minute mark should be adjusted to fit your skill level, your body, and your pregnancy.
Both Schelling and Dr. Siewert emphasize the importance of listening to your body and changing your workout accordingly. “Modify your workout according to how you are feeling,” Schelling says. She recommends making small changes, like doing a ball squat instead of a typical squat, to compensate for the changes in your body.
However, there are some exercises that should be eliminated from your workout if you are pregnant. Avoid jumping movements, any high impact activities and sports, as well as exercises like squats and lunges. Plus, as the pregnancy progresses past the first trimester, it is best to avoid exercises that require you to lie on your back. For most exercises, Dr. Siewert offers a simple way to determine whether or not to do them – “If you don’t like the way it feels – stop.”
Finally, pregnant women should monitor their heart rate to make sure it doesn’t exceed 140 beats per minute, as a higher heart rate could restrict blood flow and air supply to the baby. A common test for a healthy heart rate is whether or not you are able to carry on a conversation while working out. If you can’t, slow down.
There are a few patient groups that should avoid exercising during pregnancy – those with severe heart disease, bad asthma, pregnancy-induced hypertension, as well as those who know they are at risk for pre-term labor. These groups are exceptions; in most cases, exercising is highly beneficial activity during pregnancy.
To learn more about pregnancy and childbirth, go to www.AveraWomens.org.