To exercise, or not to exercise? To exercise, or not to exercise?
Exercise during pregnancy

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To Exercise, Or Not to Exercise?

At first glance, many a woman who has ever carried a child in her body will undoubtedly laugh at the notion of physical exertion during pregnancy. For me, the very act of walking casually into a grocery store sent my hear rate soaring during each of my three pregnancies. So, the idea of putting my already-burdened body through anything more strenuous than pushing a shopping cart at 0.5 mph down the baked-goods aisle was really a non-issue; it wasn't going to happen.

But that may be why I gained 50 lbs. with each new life I produced.

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Truth be told, exercise is not something that should be dismissed quite so easily for those in gestation. While you may not be one of those annoyingly cute-bellied pregnant people you love to hate because they've run five miles everyday since they were born (and darn it if pregnancy is going to get in the way of that!), the benefits of exercise to both the mother and fetus are numerous, even if all you can manage is a slow walk.

Here are a few activities that are safe for mothers-to-be:
  1. Walking - Not only is walking great exercise, but it is a wonderful way to relax and de-stress. Pregnancy brings with it a whole catalogue of emotions, and walking gives you a way to slow down and take a moment to breathe and enjoy the new life inside of you in an atmosphere of nature.
  2. Swimming - Are your joints and ligaments beginning to feel the pressures of the extra weight you're carrying? The weightlessness that swimming provides can be a welcome relief to all those accumulating aches.
  3. Yoga - Worried about how your new curvier body might look in a maternity tankini? Let yoga alleviate your fears! It's fun, easy on your body, and with a variety of media to choose from, it's something you can do in the comfort of your home.

Keep in mind that most exercise is safe to do as long as you were already doing it pre-pregnancy, and as long as your pregnancy is deemed by a medical professional as healthy with no complications. Use common sense, as well. Don't feel the need to be the super-sports star you were before you were two people. Listen to your body, and keep regular track of your heart rate in order to ensure that you are not overdoing it. And always consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise routine.

So if you're like I was - that is, ecstatic to be pregnant so I could eat whatever I wanted, not go to the gym every day, and (here's the best part!) not feel guilty about any of it - then you'll probably want someone to lay out precisely what good will come from exercising. Because in order to get me to heave myself out of my favorite position (I won't go into detail for dignity's sake, but it involves the couch, remote control, and a pint of lemon sorbet), there would have to be some pretty darn good reasons to get my sweat glands going. Well, prepare to be motivated!

  • For starters, and most importantly, exercise keeps you feeling good! Not only does it provide a great mental boost to know that you are actively being healthy, but the science part is that endorphins are released during physical exertion... and who doesn't like that?
  • Feeling too tired to exercise? Well, now you are without excuse because exercising actually gives you more energy, while at the same time allowing you to sleep better at night (which is a major plus factor as sleep becomes more difficult the bigger your belly gets).
  • Having a regular routine will keep your muscles in prime shape when the time comes to deliver the baby. A flexible and strong body makes for a much more enjoyable labor, especially if you are planning on giving it a drug-free go.
  • If you have previously been a regular non-exerciser, getting into the habit now can make for a quicker road back to the old You. Physical activity now will pay off after you give birth because you will have gained less weight from fat. A word of caution here: Do NOT try to lose weight while pregnant. Your goal is to be fit and healthy so your baby can be healthy too.

Now that you are well-informed on the great things that exercising will do for you and your new little one, go have a good time! If it's not fun, try something else. But above all, stay active... your body will thank you for it later!

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