By Guest Blogger Felicity Lewis

While pregnancy is a beautiful process and an amazing experience, it totally rocks your world.  All of a sudden, you find yourself worrying about so many different aspects of your world.  While pregnant, we worry about the mundane—the vitamins we need to take, the food we eat, and how to budget for a new baby—and the not-so-mundane what-the-heck-is-going-on, do-all-pregnant-women-feel-like-this  kinds of things.

I’ve found many people don’t really think as much about physical activity.  But it is one of those important topics that shouldn’t be overlooked, pregnant or not.  I’ll be the first to admit that exercise gets pushed to the back burner during pregnancy.   I mean who has the energy when you constantly feel sick and will my swollen ankles even fit in my running shoes?  Not to mention, working out while toting an extra life form is hard!  Plus, thinking of how to work out while pregnant is tough. Hopefully, this article can give you a few pointers.

First, leading doctors agree that exercising during pregnancy is typically safe and advisable, and for the most part, if you can do it relatively comfortably, it is a safe exercise.  The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists constantly updates information on safe exercise practices while pregnant, if you are concerned about a particular exercise routine or want to know more.  (As an aside, this is a great resource for nearly all topics that relate to pregnancy).

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states that if you are having a healthy and normal pregnancy, exercising is great.  It is always important to let your OBGYN know your exercise routine and plan, however. There are certain complications and issues that can arise during pregnancy that may require you to avoid exercise or modify your plans.  Plus, you should always consult a doctor before starting a new exercise activity.

If you exercised regularly before, you can probably keep chugging along on your routine.  And if you are starting a new exercise habit, you’ll be surprised to find how much you can do while pregnant.  There are some things you should definitely stay away from while exercising though.  One of the big ones is that it’s best to stay off of your back.  If we think about how they do not want pregnant women to sleep on their backs, because it can interfere with blood flow, it is also important to keep that in mind while exercising.  That’s okay though!  Crunches and many other floor exercises can easily be modified to do while standing and you are getting just as good of a work out!  And don’t use that as a reason to skip core work.  Our abdominal muscles are constantly moving, changing, and rearranging during pregnancy, so keeping a tight core can be very beneficial.

Another big tip is to consider that our balance will be a little off during pregnancy too because of the change in our center of gravity.  Turns out we are a little more likely to lean forward when we have an extra person connected to our bellies. Activities like planks or push-ups can be modified to be done against the wall, especially later on during the pregnancy, in order to provide more stability.

There are many different ways to get involved and modify exercises while pregnant and many of our local gyms and health & wellness locations can provide modifications during classes.  Although you may need to change things up from time-to-time, there are so many benefits derived from exercising during pregnancy like potentially decreasing Gestational Diabetes chances, reduced aches and pains, and more consistent healthy weight gain.  The ACOG suggests 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity aerobic exercise, which could be hard work in the gym or brisk walks at lunch.

Remember that your joints loosen, your blood flows at an increased rate, and it’s easy to get dehydrated during pregnancy.  So make sure to warm up and cool down, stretch out, and hydrate properly.  And while doing all that, think about how you are starting to promote a healthy lifestyle for that baby even inside the womb.  Plus, that workout will help you blow off some of the pregnancy stress (and it may even let you eat a few more donuts guilt-free).

For more information about exercise during pregnancy check out Exercising while Pregnant ACOG

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