Pregnancy creates a special need for exercise. In fact, pregnancy is a major stress on your body. Fortunately your body is well equipped to handle this stress if you pay attention to its needs and look after it well.
Benefits Of Exercise
Regular exercise during pregnancy gives you more energy, less fatigue and improved sleep.
It significantly reduces many of the discomforts of pregnancy.
It alleviates constipation, reduces the incidence of backache, leg cramps and varicose veins, relieves breathlessness, and best of all, prevents excessive weight gain.
It also conditions you for the physical exertion of labour and later on, the physical demands of raising a young baby.
As well, aerobic exercise makes the circulatory system, which nourishes your baby, work more efficiently.
Stretching exercises improve posture and strengthen and tone upper and lower back muscles and abdominal muscles, making it easier to carry your baby.
Strengthening pelvic floor muscles makes it easier to carry the weight of the enlarged uterus and improves bladder control. It also makes it easier for these muscles to stretch and accommodate the baby's head, and to go back to their normal shape and function after the birth.
Long-term benefits of pelvic muscle exercises include prevention of dropped uterus and urinary incontinence (losing urine when you cough or sneeze).
Before embarking on a exercise program, discuss your proposed exercise plans with your physician, and make sure no medical reasons exist for you to stop or modify your program like miscarriage, premature labour or anemia.
The Ideal Pregnancy Exercise Program
During pregnancy, you should include in your exercise program:
This sounds like a lot, but all four can be easily be combined at one session. Numbers 1, 2 and 4 should be practised daily and will take 20 to 30 minutes. This can be broken up into two ten to 15 minute sessions. Aerobic exercises should be performed at least three times a week for a minimum of 15 minutes with one day between each session.
If you are already fit and doing aerobic exercise on a regular basis, whether swimming, cycling, running, jogging, dancing or attending aerobics classes, pregnancy is a good time to maintain your level of fitness.
If you are not already exercising, pregnancy is a good time to design a gentle and regular program of exercise suited to your needs and lifestyle, and one that can easily be continued.
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