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» Why Engage in Prenatal Exercise?
Why Engage in Prenatal Exercise?
Many women may wonder why they should engage in exercise during pregnancy. After all, pregnancy leaves women tired, nauseated, and irritable, and getting larger is inevitable. Why make yourself exercise when you feel awful and when you are supposed to be gaining weight? Because not only will exercise alleviate many of your pregnancy symptoms and help reduce your unnecessary weight gain, but it will also lead to healthier birth outcomes for mother AND baby. Here are the many reasons why you should continue (or start) an exercise routine during pregnancy:
Benefits for Mother
- Cardiovascular exercise increases your endurance and energy reserves, helping you in your everyday activities and making your body better able to tolerate the stress of birth
- Strength training maintains muscle, helping your body support your growing belly and giving you the strength to lift and carry your baby after birth
- Women who exercise during pregnancy recover more quickly from pregnancy, labor, and childbirth
- Exercise helps alleviate or eliminate the following pregnancy symptoms: nausea, fatigue, leg cramps, round ligament pain, backache, constipation, varicose veins, and swelling
- Pregnant women who exercise report higher levels of self-esteem and body image and lower levels of depression
- Exercise is beneficial in the primary prevention of gestational diabetes
- Women who exercised during pregnancy had significantly fewer c-sections and their length of labor has been shown to be shorter than for non-exercising women
- Exercise during pregnancy leads to less overall weight gain (8 lbs less on average) and less body fat gain (3% less on average)
- Mothers who exercised during pregnancy return to pre-pregnancy weight and fitness levels faster and have less weight and fat retention after birth
Benefits for Baby
- Exercising pregnant women have faster placental growth and with more surface area which results in greater functional capacity of the placenta
- Babies born to exercising mothers tend to have less fat and weigh less (the incidence of low birthweight babies is the same for exercising and non-exercising mothers)
- In following women five years after birth, one study showed that children born to mothers who exercised during pregnancy had less fat, weighed less, and scored higher on general intelligence and language skills tests than control children, and that there was no difference in the physical growth and skill development in the two groups
- Research has shown that exercise is safe for the fetus; at appropriate intensities and duration it does not cause fetal distress, decreases in blood flow to the baby, or low-birth weight
Research has clearly shown that the benefits of prenatal exercise are numerous. If you need help starting a prenatal fitness routine or have questions on how to modify and continue your current routine, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.