Pregnant Women Should (Really, Really) Be Exercising
There's an outdated idea that pregnant women should take it easy. But the medical establishment says expectant mamas shouldn't let their gym memberships lapse and put their feet up. The latest advice: You should keep up with regular exercise while you're expecting.
The JAMA Viewpoint report comes from a group of doctors who want the old-fashioned ideas of how pregnant women should proceed to change—where we once urged to "eat for two", now experts recommend keeping diet and weight gain in check. These recommendations aren't just a reflection of increased understanding of what contributes to a healthy pregnancy, they also hint at an important health issue. Women tend to be heavier when they enter pregnancy these days—and packing on excess weight during pregnancy can only fuel the obesity epidemic.
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The bad news? You may have to let go of your image of a blissfully lazy pregnancy filled with entire pints of ice cream and daily Netflix binges. The good news? This report clearly indicates a greater understanding of the fact that pregnant women are NOT delicate flowers.
Researchers looked at 2059 women and found that healthy pregnant who were within the normal weight range, carrying single infants and had no pregnancy complications weren't increasing their odds of preterm delivery by exercising three to four times a week. If your pregnancy falls into a different category, you may want to speak with a doctor to devise an appropriate plan, but if you're generally healthy (and have clearance from your doctor), sweat away!
Here's one new idea introduced in this report: While we previously thought women should not pick up new exercises during pregnancy, this report indicates that even sedentary women should initiate exercise routines when they learn they're expecting. Of course, you should always check in with your doctor before starting anything, but long walks, light body weight exercises and prenatal training sessions might be great starting points.
If you were active before you got pregnant, you should do your best to push through the fatigue, discomfort and morning sickness to maintain your routine. Whether it's Zumba, barre, running, prenatal yoga, whatever—if it's something you enjoyed pre-pregnancy, it's probably a good idea to stick to it after you've conceived.