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4 Tips You Should Know About Exercise and Pregnancy

About 80 percent of our clients are female and it isn’t hard to find one or more that are pregnant. When a client asks about exercising during their pregnancy there are several issues that need to be taken into account.First – Check with your doctorThe first and most important is what does your doctor say? Every single pregnancy is different as is every woman. Women who were pregnant before might have a completely different pregnancy the second or third time around, so the doctor always needs to be the first person contacted. It should also be mentioned that no doctors or medical professionals were contacted to write this, only the experience and knowledge base of the author.

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Second – What is your health and exercise history?The second and next most important thing is what was going on before the pregnancy? If you were exercising prior to getting pregnant then, generally, it is OK and more likely a good idea to continue to exercise. However, generally no one should take up an exercise program after becoming pregnant if they weren’t exercising on a regular basis prior to getting pregnant.Third – Listen to Your BodyPregnant clients or better yet, anyone who is pregnant and exercising should always listen to their bodies. In the beginning (the first trimester), there are not a lot of things that need to change. Some doctors and many studies recommend keeping your heart rate below 140 beats per minute. However, other doctors say that you should work out where you are comfortable. In my opinion, you need to keep your heart rate below 70% of your maximum heart rate. That is, to stay inside the fat burning zone and not to go into the aerobic zone.Pay close attention to any types of changes in your body. Any pain or discomfort should alert you that something is wrong and you should pay attention to that seeking medical advice as necessary.

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Fourth – Getting back to exercising after deliveryNot long after the baby is born, women often start thinking about ways to get back their pre-pregnancy shape. The general rule is 6 weeks but this depends on the type of delivery you have. The biggest thing is to communicate with your doctor and let them set the expectations for you. Once back, be sure to ease your way into it. You won’t be able to do what you did before so work your way back into your exercise routine!

Exercise and Pregnancy?

Should I Exercise During PregnancyHeck ya, you should! It amazes me on how many people believe that once you are pregnant that you should not exercise during the pregnancy. I want to lay that myth to rest right now and tell you that you should exercise during your pregnancy.The question is not should you, the question is how to. So in this article I want to give you some guidelines on how to exercise during pregnancy.If you’re into fitness at all and are thinking about having a baby, you are probably a little nervous! I’m sure you’re excited to have a baby but nervous about the weight gain and the impact pregnancy will have on your body appearance and fitness. I don’t blame you! I am a dude and I could see how putting on this extra weight could petrify you.Understand that you are going to put on weight during pregnancy. The goal is to make sure most of that weight is “baby weigh.” I want to provide you with some strategies for maintaining or even improving your fitness, even while pregnant so that you can look and feel your best while making sure that your baby is safe. I am always encouraging our clients to continue to exercise and continue to set fitness goals during their pregnancy. Don’t let this be a time where you fall off…then it is just more difficult post pregnancy.Exercising during pregnancy can provide a ton of health benefits for you onto of just looking good. And don’t forget the benefits it can have to your baby.Here are just some of the benefits of exercising during pregnancyLower risk of developing gestational diabetes (This is huge!)
Weight control (I know you love this one!)
Reduced postpartum depression (You don’t want to deal with PPD!)
Limits water retention (You know that bloated look!)
More nutrients for your baby because of larger placenta (Who doesn’t want a healthy baby!)
Decreased likelihood of varicose veins (We all love those veins..NOT!)
Less likely to require a C-section delivery (I heard these are not fun!)
Faster return to pre-pregnancy weight (YEAH!!)
Healthier and leaner child up to 5 years after delivery (Awesome!)
Increased fitness for delivery so that you can handle the demands of mommy hood! (I hear mommy hood is a fulltime job..Get Ready!)

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The studies that have been done encourage pregnant women to do moderate exercise for 30 minutes or more every single day so if you don’t believe me do your own research.Studies have even shown that very physically active women can benefit from continuing their high volume exercise routines, up to 9 hours per week, while pregnant. Now, there are certain things that you do want to stay away from during your pregnancy….So, now I want to provide you with some keys to your exercise success during pregnancy.Set Realistic GoalsFirst, you’ll have to adjust your goals and realize that things are going to change during pregnancy. I am going to state something that may shock you. Are you ready? While pregnant, weight gain is to be expected. That’s right, expect to gain weight! How much you gain is the question.Here are the healthy weight gain numbers during pregnancy:Underweight women should gain between 25 and 35 lb
Overweight women should gain no more than 15 to 25 lb
Women 5’2″ or shorter should gain between 15 and 25 lbGet all of those ideas of losing fat out of your mind while pregnant… Your new focus should be maintaining your fitness level and gaining a healthy, but not abnormal, amount of weight.Exercise IntensityYour exercise intensity needs to be kept in check during pregnancy. How will you do this? By keeping your body temperature and heart rate in check. In order to do this, you’re going to have to pay close attention to your exercise intensity. Always remind yourself that your first responsibility while pregnant is to create the ideal environment for your baby. I say that to say that if you are smoking and drinking then you should be smacked up side your head!I had to throw that in there because I am amazed at how women continue this lifestyle when pregnant.Back to my point on exercise intensity…You should be able to carry on a conversation without getting out of breath. Your heart rate shouldn’t climb higher than 70-75% of your maximum (HR maximum = 220-age) during exercise sessions.Keep your body temperature under control by avoiding exercising in extremely hot or humid conditions and always keep yourself hydrated during exercise. Exercise Each Day Will Keep The Doc AwayAlthough your exercise intensity will have to be kept in check, your exercise volume doesn’t necessarily have to decrease. How often and how much should usually be determined by what you were doing prior to getting pregnant. It’s actually recommended that pregnant women exercise at least 30 minutes daily with this exercise consisting of a wide variety of exercises.Exercises You Can Do and Exercises you Shouldn’t DoDuring pregnancy you want to stay away from contact sports. So put down the football ladies! Sprinting is out also but there are plenty of other exercises that are OK as long as you pay attention to the changes going on in your body and monitor the factors I mentioned above.High impact activities and other exercises should be minimized. Try to choose activities that create less joint stress like swimming, walking, biking, or if you like the gym you could use the elliptical or stair climber.I am about to state something that is going to shock you. Get ready!You can perform weight training while pregnant. In fact, weight training should be performed and can be one of the most beneficial activities for the pregnant woman. Just follow my guidelines below:Here are those guidelines while weight training during pregnancy:1. Work That CoreDuring pregnancy back and hip pain tend to increase. Fortunately, exercises that brace the core (your good old front and side bridges) can strengthen the core muscles and reduce pain. You want to try to pick exercises that require you to support your spine and that force you to use your core (abdominal) muscles to support your spine. You may have heard me refer to these exercises as core stability. While choosing these exercises you should maintain a neutral spine. These exercises will typically be free weight exercises and not machine exercises as they do all of the stabilizing for you. It is important to work your core during pregnancy2. You Should Train The Whole BodyMake sure to train both the upper and lower body. Training the entire body will enable you to build more lean muscle mass which will allow you to burn fat more efficiently while pregnant plus keep you looking toned and lean and sexy!

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3. You Should Avoid Lying on Your BackAfter the first trimester, try to avoid exercises that require you to lie flat on your back. Exercises like the bench press. Studies have been shown that exercising while flat on the back can diminish blood flow to your brain and also to your uterus. This is probably a no brainer but you also want to avoid exercises that press against or put pressure on your stomach.4. You Should Breath NaturallyTry to breathe normal during exercising. Try to avoid forcefully exhaling without actually releasing air which can result in a rapid increase in blood and intra-abdominal pressure which can decrease oxygen flow to the fetus.5. You Should Use Higher RepsI am not telling you to not work hard, I am just telling you to decrease the weight load. You should stick with higher repetitions for your sets (10-20 reps). These sets should be performed at 65-75% of your 1RM. This may help avoid stressing relaxed joints and help prevent a rapid increase in blood and intra-abdominal pressure.If you’ve been exercising regularly and have just become pregnant, it is important that you continue to exercise just be sure to follow my guidelines above. If you are reading this and are not yet pregnant, now is your time to get active and take control of your health so that you are prepared when your time comes.If you’re pregnant but exercise is new to you and you want to start, go right ahead. Just start very slow and be sure to follow the guidelines above. I always recommend getting guidance and consulting with a fitness professional that knows what they are doing and has some experience working with pregnant women. And don’t forget to check out my article on how to eat while pregnant… Taking care of your nutrition is a huge part of the game.Of course, if you need some help with your nutrition or exercise, I recommend getting with one of my Bootcamp Tulsa coaches.Now, go make some babies and have staying fit while pregnant!

Exercise and Pregnancy – Fit for Two

Something was obviously bothering Diane. “I guess I’m going to have to stop working out,” she sighed. As her personal trainer, I was stunned at this statement. After all, she had made terrific progress in her training endeavors, and had literally redefined her physique. She paused for a moment and then continued, “I just found out that I’m pregnant…”Sadly, many women still believe that pregnancy requires a sedentary lifestyle. Even worse, some continue to train while pregnant, without understanding the contraindications for exercise. This can seriously jeopardize their own health and well being, as well as that of their fetus. There are so many misconceptions and lack of information regarding training during pregnancy that many gynecologists are not even sure how to properly counsel their patients on this subject. Yet, when properly implemented, an exercise regimen can provide a multitude of benefits for the pregnant woman, with virtually no downside.As a personal trainer, perhaps the most frequent complaint that I hear from women is that they cannot lose excess weight gained after pregnancy. During pregnancy, a woman undergoes many physiologic and hormonal changes that can alter her metabolism and body habitus. It is commonplace to gain fifty pounds, post-partum, and most are unprepared to deal with this event.While it is certainly possible for a woman to reshape her body after pregnancy, the best way to counteract post-partum weight gain is to stay in shape during pregnancy. By remaining dedicated to a workout schedule, a woman can virtually return to her original shape shortly after delivery. In addition to the short-term calorie burning effects associated with an exercise program, a disciplined training program increases muscle mass. This, in turn, elevates the body’s resting metabolic rate, thereby helping to burn additional calories on an ongoing basis-even while asleep!Moreover, adopting a workout routine helps to increase energy levels and reduce the fatigue associated with pregnancy . It is common for a woman to sit around the house all day, feeling unattractive and lethargic as her term progresses. Regular exercise promotes a better sense of well being and helps to improve a woman’s self-esteem during this fragile period.Numerous other exercise-related benefits have been reported, including a lower incidence of back pain, reduced edema, and fewer leg cramps . There also is a positive influence on labor and delivery. Research has shown that women who train during pregnancy experience a shorter active labor and a decreased amount of fetal stress . One study even found that the offspring of women who exercised had significantly lower body fat levels than those who were sedentary-even after a five-year follow-up period!

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There are, though, many unique principles to pregnancy training, and extensive care must be taken to ensure a safe, effective workout. The goal of exercise during pregnancy should be to maintain the highest level of fitness consistent with maximum safety. By understanding the basic guidelines of pregnancy training and adopting a dedicated workout program, a woman can reap all the rewards of staying fit during and after pregnancy without risking injury to herself or to her fetus.Before beginning a routine, it is essential to get a physician’s clearance to rule out any possible exercise-related contraindications. Conditions such as hypertension, bleeding, cardiac arrhythmia and other afflictions can be potentially injurious. Even things that might seem innocuous under normal circumstances can be of dire consequence at this delicate time. Therefore, medical clearance is a necessary prerequisite prior to undertaking a training regimen, and follow-up should be obtained on a regular basis to monitor any changes in health. In this case, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.Assuming that there are no contraindications, a woman should plan to exercise at regular intervals. A three-day per week training regimen is ideal, preferably allowing at least one rest day in between workouts. Thus, training on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday basis will afford maximal effectiveness while allowing adequate rest and recuperation.As a rule, aerobic classes, especially high-impact and step, are generally not recommended. During pregnancy, hormonal changes relax the connective tissues, which may produce joint instability . Bouncing movements, jumping motions, and rapid changes in direction-all common elements in aerobics classes-place significant stress on the joints and tendons. This will substantially increase the risk of injury to these areas. Moreover, the flow of an aerobic class, which is oriented to a group rather than to the individual, makes it difficult for the pregnant woman to remain in control. It is therefore better to proceed with an individual workout program consisting of cardiovascular activities, stretching, and strength training, whereby proper form and function are maintained at all times.In choosing an exercise facility, it is imperative that the workout area is well ventilated and air-conditioned. During pregnancy, basal metabolic temperature is increased, which can predispose a woman to overheating-a phenomenon that has been shown to cause neural tube defects . Therefore, a pregnant woman should make sure not exercise in a hot, humid place and take care to monitor changes in body temperature.The workout should begin with a ten-minute cardiovascular warm-up on a treadmill or stationary bike at a low resistance in order to warm up the muscles. A proper warm-up will help to circulate blood flow throughout the body and thereby decrease the risk of joint injury. The chosen activity should be performed at roughly 50% of maximal heart rate. In order to estimate this number, subtract your age from 220 and multiply by 50%. Thus, a 30 year old woman would have a target heart rate of 95 (220-30=190 x .5=95).After cardio, it is beneficial to perform about ten minutes of light stretching. Because of connective tissue laxity, care should be taken in the degree of stretching. Stretches should not be taken to point of maximum resistance and should be performed in a relaxed manner that stays within a comfortable zone. Slow, stationary stretching is recommended, and one should be sure to avoid any ballistic, bouncing movements.Next, a comprehensive weight training session should be undertaken. While there are many ways to approach this endeavor, a total body workout targeting each of the major muscle groups with one exercise is perhaps the best approach. This allows circulation of blood into all areas of the body and maintains the goal of optimal fitness with maximal safety. High repetitions (approximately 12 to 15 per set) are recommended and two to three sets of each exercise should be performed.During the weight-training phase, it is important to follow certain safety precautions. Weight training should not be performed at maximal intensity of effort – don’t struggle to pump out an extra rep. Repetitions should be smooth and controlled and a woman should always maintain basic form. Breathing should be regulated on each repetition and a woman should never hold her breath while lifting. Finally, heart rate should be measured at times of peak activity, keeping maximal heart rate in a comfortable range.Moreover, due to the physiologic and hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy, there are contraindications for certain exercises. First, exercises that require bending from the waist should be avoided. This can cause dizziness and heartburn in the pregnant woman, as well as placing undue stress on the lumbar spine. Hence, exercises such as stiff-legged deadlifts and bent rows should not be performed.

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Second, it is best not to utilize any overhead lifting exercises. Because of the increased lordotic curve associated with pregnancy, overhead exercises can place heighten stress to the lower lumbar area resulting in an increased incidence of lower back pain. Thus, exercises such as the military press and incline chest press are contraindicated.Lastly, exercises performed in the supine position should be eschewed after the first trimester. Due to a predisposition to decreased blood pressure (hypotension), the pregnant woman is more apt to become light headed and dizzy while lying down. Furthermore, when supine, the fetus tends to press on the vena cava, decreasing venous blood flow and potentially causing harm to the fetus . Thus, movements such as the bench press, crunch, and lying triceps extensions must be dropped at the end of the third month.After weight training, it is best to finish the workout with a cool down period. The cool down should comprise about ten to fifteen minutes of slow walking or stationary cycling combined with additional gentle stretching movements utilizing the same principles as in the warm-up. This will ensure a gradual stabilization of body temperature and help to flush lactic acid from the muscles.That’s it, a comprehensive routine that is safe and effective! The entire workout will last about an hour to an hour and a half, leaving a woman feeling healthy and invigorated. By following these simple principles, a woman can maintain her shape throughout pregnancy and ultimately look as good or better than before conception!And by the way, despite her trepidation, I was able to convince Diane that it would be beneficial for her to continue working out-which she did until her eighth month. I am happy to report that she now has a healthy baby boy and was within five pounds of her ideal weight after delivery. She is again back into her training routine, trying next for a baby girl.

Exercising and Pregnancy

Their aren’t many greater changes in a women’s life than pregnancy. She will go through growth of some areas of her body. She will have new pains and aches that she isn’t used to. Unexplained, sudden cravings coupled with fatigue, nausea and emotional ups and downs. How can a women cope with these challenges that she will face during pregnancy? Most women give strict attention to their diet and this is vital. Many, however, are less inclined to think about exercise. Is there a link between exercising and pregnancy benefits? Let us examine what the benefits are, what should be considered before starting an exercise program and what program will work best for you.First, what link is there between exercising and pregnancy benefits? One of the most difficult challenges of pregnancy is the overall fatigue and lack of energy that a women will feel on a daily basis. Exercise is an incredible source of energy and a mood booster. It increases circulation thereby helping to boost the immune system. Have you ever been stressed and went for a jog or played a sport and feel stress relief? Pregnancy is a stressful time. Exercise can be “the pill” to help relieve that stress. Also your baby is dependent on the health of your body so keep it in tip-top shape!

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Second, lets examine what should be considered before beginning an exercise program. Is the exercise high impact or high intensity? How high will my heart rate be when exercising? Will there be rapid or jarring motions, sudden stopping, risk of falling/collisions or holding breath for elongated periods? It is wise to talk to a doctor before starting any exercise program or sports activity to be certain that it doesn’t involve or put your baby at risk. If it involves any of the above than it is wise to not participate. Also a woman will experience frequent nausea and dizziness so this means that sports or other activities requiring balance can be even more difficult or risky.Finally, when considering exercising and pregnancy, ask yourself, “What is the best exercise program for me?” There are, available today, a variety of low or zero impact aerobics, exercise machines and exercise activities. For example swimming or walking is always recommended. Many modern aerobics can be both low intensity and low impact. Talk to a certified instructor to find out what aerobics fit those guidelines. Above all remember that you shouldn’t and won’t be able to do what you could before. Be reasonable with what you expect of your body. Also if you haven’t exercised before pregnancy then don’t start off too intense now. Balance will ensure safety and longevity.

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Think of exercise as something you and your baby can do together. It will give your child the start he or she needs on the path to a healthy lifestyle. Yes, enjoy the benefits now and for two lifetimes, yours and your baby’s.

Exercise and Pregnancy Classes

Are you pregnant? Whether it is your first time, or one of many, pregnancy is one of the most challenging things women have to go through. This is a time when your body is exhausted and you experience so many changes. The last thing many women want to do is exercise, even though it is one of the best things to do while you are pregnant.Benefits of Exercise When PregnantExercise, obviously, is always beneficial. However, when you are pregnant it will help you keep from gaining too much weight. Also, it will strengthen your body, which will make it easier on you when it comes time to deliver the baby.Studies also show that if the mother exercises, that the baby will be more likely to be healthy and that when the baby grows up there will be less of a chance of the child becoming obese.

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You do have to be careful to not overdo it while you are pregnant. While exercise is beneficial, you do not want to overexert yourself and cause harm to yourself or your unborn child.Exercise and Pregnancy ClassesIt may be beneficial to sign up for a class to help you exercise when you are pregnant. Classes are great at providing that extra motivation that you need to make exercise a routine habit. It is hard to schedule exercise, but if a class meets a certain number times of week and you plan it in your schedule, you will be more likely to find the time to work out.Also, a class is beneficial because the classes are taught by instructors who know a lot about fitness and have received training in the area. The instructors may be able to show you some exercises that will work well for your situation that you may not have known of otherwise.In a class you will also have extra motivation. The members of a fitness class all want to see each other succeed. Your classmates can help cheer you on when you are feeling down and need some help.Exercise and pregnancy classes are a great way to stay fit because in these classes the other members are pregnant and they know what you are going through. Also, the instructors specialize in helping pregnant women with fitness and will know those pregnancy-specific work outs to help you get in the shape you want to get in. Also, you will not have to feel self conscious about being pregnant, since all the other members are pregnant as well.

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Go Get FitWell, what are you waiting for? Go to your local gym and see what exercise and pregnancy classes they offer. Talk with an instructor and get started today. These classes may be just what you need for your situation. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to get started.