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The benefits of exercise during pregnancy

Benefits of exercising when pregnantBefore getting pregnant this spring I knew I wanted to be an active mom-to-be. I ran, did yoga, and cycled prior to getting pregnant so it never occurred to me I wouldn’t continue some type of exercise routine once I got that little plus sign. The standard guidelines for exercise while pregnant are 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week. In addition, if you ran, cycled, etc. prior to pregnancy and your doctor gives you the okay, you can continue running as long as you feel up to it.

But while I knew I wanted to continue working out and I vaguely understood its benefits, no one ever explicitly told me why it was important. So, I did a little research on the benefits of exercise during pregnancy, not only on the mom-to-be but also for baby. Benefits of exercising while pregnant* include:

  1. Improved cardiovascular health. Studies show exercise lowers heart rates for both mom and baby. In addition, babies whose moms exercised during pregnancy tend to have more efficient hearts that pump more blood with each beat.
  2. Decreased fat mass. Babies of active moms tend to have lower levels of fat. This is also true of for the mom. Regular exercise while pregnant helps reduce the risk of excessive weight gain. Excessive weight gain during pregnancy can increase the chances of pre-term birth, gestational diabetes, cesarean, and obesity after pregnancy for both mom and baby.
  3. Greater neurobehavioral scores. New studies indicate children of moms who exercised throughout pregnancy scored higher on intelligence test, on average, by the age of five.
  4. An easier delivery (maybe). Moms who exercise tend to have lower body fat, improved stress tolerance and stronger muscles and bones, all of which may aid in an easier delivery. Specific exercises, like yoga, can train moms-to-be in breathing techniques, running helps with endurance (likely needed for hours of labor), and other forms of exercise strengthen muscles, which will help when the time comes to push.
  5. Losing the baby weight. Moms who exercise during pregnancy have an easier time losing the baby weight. Just think, if you stay active for 9 months you won’t be starting back at square one post partum. The healthy habits will be engrained in your brain and your body.

Although it can be tough to get out there when you’re dealing with nausea, fatigue, achiness and extra weight, the benefits of exercise to mom and baby are huge. So strap on your shoes or roll out your mat and get out there.

*As always, consult your doctor about exercise as it specifically relates to your unique pregnancy and needs.

Written by Lisa Chase.

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