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Exercise and pregnancy are not mutually exclusive

As a father of two girls, I watched my amazing wife through two pregnancies and in both she exercised throughout, with great success and enjoyment. In fact, for Kari’s first pregnancy she ran until she was 8 months pregnant, and swam at 9 months. With our second, she couldn’t run because of the positioning of our daughter, but Kari swam and worked out for the first 8 months. As a result of this experience and the experience of many of her friends, and other women, I write this post in full support of pregnant women exercising, and of course, doing it wisely.

Physician Approval and Exercise Benefits

The first step when considering exercise during pregnancy, and for that matter for anyone considering exercise, is to seek out your physician for their input, and the green light. As with any form of exercise, a woman exercising during pregnancy will experience great health benefits, as will the developing child. These benefits are, weight control, a healthier appetite, more energy throughout the day, and for some shorter labor. (I know for Kari, she had our second child in 45 minutes!)

There has been well over 20 years of research, and this research indicates there is low to no risk for healthy pregnant women to exercise. Additionally, research has shown, as well as many women’s first-hand experiences, their children are in no way at a disadvantage as a result of an active pregnancy.

“Research indicates there is low to no risk for healthy pregnant women to exercise.”

Advice on Exercise

Just like a woman who is not pregnant, a pregnant woman would benefit from 30 minutes or more of moderate intensity exercise on a daily basis. Exercise type should be based on the person’s previous type, intensity, and length of time they exercise. Here are a few suggested exercises from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists:

What forms of exercise can I perform during exercise?

  • Walking
  • Swimming (this is a great way to push yourself without all the high impact)
  • Cycling provides a good aerobic workout (can be difficult as the baby grows!)
  • Running (often the running will have to be modified as the pregnancy progresses)
  • Exercise classes that are similar to what you did before
  • Core Strengthening exercises

Difficult or At-Risk Pregnancies

In cases of at-risk pregnancies, the gynecologist is the go to for answering the exercise question. Generally, in these cases, exercise is severely limited and should be monitored by your doctor and with help from a personal trainer that is skilled in working with women who are pregnant.

Every situation will be different, and I want to note the key piece of this puzzle is following what your body is telling you, and go for it!

Check back next week for a follow-up post on exercise and pregnancy, I will go over some of the body’s changes, unsafe exercises, and exercise after the baby, among other things. Let us know on Twitter or Facebook about your experiences with  exercise during pregnancy.

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