Doctors Urge More Exercise for Women when Pregnant: Here’s Why

Many years ago, the advice given by doctors to pregnant women was to rest. This historical advice for pregnant women, according to Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), can be harmful.

Today, doctors advise more exercise for women when pregnant.

Can you believe that pregnant women are told to rest as much as possible during their pregnancy, even prolonged bed rest in case of complications.

Not to mention the nutritional advice that you should be ‘eating for two.’

According to JAMA, however, ‘these misguided recommendations’ have ‘turned out to be a major contributor to the global obesity epidemic.

Fifty years ago, gynecological medicine stated the need for women to gain enough weight to provide healthy growth for the baby.

But now, the advice has changed.

Did you know?

About 45 percent of today’s mothers-to-be began their pregnancies overweight or obese, compared to 24 percent in 1983.

Did you also know that almost half of today’s pregnant women have gained more weight in the nine months of their pregnancy than the amounts recommended by the Institute of Medicine?

Consequences of being overweight when pregnant?

Experts now believe that obesity fuels obesity for generations. So what they are saying is that an overweight mother is likely to have overweight children.

Being overweight and not exercising can be passed down both through genes and through lifestyle and environment.

The JAMA Viewpoint

JAMA Viewpoint looks at four key aspects of exercise during pregnancy:

1. safety
2. benefit
3. the when and how
4. caution.

The Study and Results

A recent meta-analysis of studies with more than 2,500 pregnant women found no risk of preterm birth or low birth-weight children among normal-weight women who exercised.

There is clear evidence that moderate exercise is now recommended even for women who did not exercise before becoming pregnant. Yes, even if you’ve never exercised before there’s no reason why you can’t start now.

But before you do this.

I want to stress the point that you MUST seek medical approval before starting any new exercise program. This is in case your personal situation prevents you from doing so.

Once Approved, You Can Get Started!

When pregnant, if you are not already doing so, you can introduce healthy lifestyle choices and habits.

The Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy

1. less macrosomia (birth of children weighing more than 8 pounds, 13 ounces).

2. less gestational diabetes.

3. less Preeclampsia.

4. fewer Caesarean-section deliveries.

5. less back pain.

6. less pain in the pelvic girdle.

7. lower frequency of urinary incontinence.

Lower rates of macrosomia is also linked to lower child and adolescent obesity, which can contribute to weight problems in adulthood.

Is Exercise Safe When Pregnant?

Studies now show that it is safe for pregnant women to do moderate strength training from the time of the first prenatal visit (weeks 9-12) until just before delivery.

Are you in the High Risk group?

If you have one of the following conditions you should exercise caution. Please seek medical advice or even stop the exercise.

1. anemia
2. placenta previa
3. pre-term contractions
4. high blood pressure
5. persistent genital bleeding
6. poor growth of the baby
7. twins
8. heart disease
9. pelvic instability

How Often Should I Exercise?

20 to 30 minutes per day on most days of the week is recommended. Listen to your body and if necessary, rest. This could include a relaxation session or pregnancy yoga class.

How about Intensity?

This is always the challenge for many women who start their pregnancy with a high level of fitness. I get it, you want to keep exercising at a high level and push yourself. But now is not the time to try and set new personal bests!

The guideline for exercise intensity is the ‘talk test.’ Hhhhmmmm. what is this?

Well, this is now how much you can talk. But this is based on your ability to carry on a conversation while exercising. This ensures that you don’t overexert yourself.

What Exercises Should Be Avoided?

1. Long-distance running.

1. Because it can raise body temperature and/or cause dehydration.
2. exercising at more than 90 percent of maximum heart rate.
3. lifting heavy weights.
4. performing isometric exercises.
5. exercise in the supine position during the last two trimesters.

How Do I Stay Motivated?

From experience, I know you’re more likely to stick to an exercise plan if it involves activities you enjoy. And it should fit into your lifestyle and daily schedule.

Consider these tips:

1. Try a class

I love teaching my prenatal classes. Along with studio classes, you’ll find qualified prenatal instructors teaching at health centers, sports medicine clinics and hospitals.

2. Start slow then build up

You don’t have to join a gym or go full-out when starting to exercise. In fact, I want you to start slow and progress each week. Just go for a walk if that’s what’s best for you.

3. Exercise with a partner

Exercise can be more interesting if you use the time to chat with a friend. Encourage each other when necessary to get out and be active.

Listen to your body

Watch for signs of a problem.

Stop exercising if you have:

1. Dizziness
2. Headache
3. Genital bleeding.
4. Increased shortness of breath before you start exercising.
5. chest pain.
6. Painful uterine contractions that continue after rest.
7. Calf pain or swelling.

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