That baby bump may make lounging around seem so enticing -- but getting exercise during pregnancy can reap big benefits for you and your baby.
Tired? You probably are! "Fatigue is one of the most common signs of pregnancy," says Kenneth Johnson, D.O., chair of obstetrics and gynecology in the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale.
And that exhausted feeling can make checking "daily workout" off the to-do list really hard.
Maybe this will help. Here are 10 very good reasons to get off the couch and exercise during pregnancy -- now.
1. To perk up. Exercise -- and the increased oxygen and blood flow that come with it -- can help boost your energy levels.
"[When I was pregnant], going outside usually made me feel better," says Rebecca Scritchfield, a Washington, D.C.-based registered dietitian and ACSM certified health fitness specialist, who is now pregnant with her second child. "I can't say exercise cures morning sickness," she continues, "but a walk and a bit of fresh air can't hurt!"
2. To prevent or ease an aching back. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that staying active can help women to prevent back pain. If you're already experiencing minor backaches, exercises that stretch your legs and back may help relieve them.
3. To relieve constipation. Changes in the level of the hormone progesterone during pregnancy often cause constipation (and iron supplements, if you take them, can make that worse). Moving, particularly activities like a walk or a swim, can help keep things moving.
4. To catch more zzz's. Exercising today can help you get better and more sleep tonight. (Just don't forget to schedule your workout at least three hours before bedtime, or you could make your wakefulness worse.)`
5. To loosen leg cramps. Keeping active can help prevent or alleviate leg cramps. If you're struggling with calf or foot cramps, be sure to include some gentle stretching into your routine to help ease tight leg muscles.
6. To reduce swelling. Increased circulation -- one of the awesome effects of your exercise -- can help reduce the swelling that many women experience during their pregnancies.
7. To feel like a mom -- right now. Stritchfield says that thinking of exercise as an act of mothering -- you're caring for both of you when you exercise -- can help you stop stressing about whether you'll be a good mom when the baby arrives.
8. To support healthy weight gain. Staying active can be part of your plan to stay healthy during your pregnancy. But, Stritchfield says, try not to view exercise as a form of weight control. Instead, focus on all the health benefits you're reaping.
9. To prep for labor. "Exercise tends to relieve anxiety and may improve the quality of labor for pregnant women," Dr. Johnson says. "Studies show that women who exercise regularly have better outcomes during labor, shorter labors, and less requirement for medications during labor."
10. To create a happy habit. If you see your pregnancy exercise as a special time to relax and recharge, it can become a habit that you can look forward to sharing with your baby when she is born, Stritchfield says. "Think of it as your own happy hour, a time to take care of you and bond with baby."
Pregnancy Workouts: How to Stay Motivated
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