What are the benefits of exercising during your pregnancy?
Exercising maintains or increases cardiovascular fitness. It improves your stamina and endurance, which are definite pluses during labor and delivery. One can also increase muscular strength. As pregnancy proceeds there is more of the Relaxin hormone present in the body. Relaxin loosens the joints so it is important to keep the muscles surrounding the joints strong to prevent injury. Strengthening the body also prepares women for the tasks of mothering, e.g. lifting the baby, car seat and even the ever present diaper bag. Muscular endurance also help to guarantee that a laboring woman uses the correct muscles with the right amount of force. Exercise improves balance and coordination, improves posture and improves support of the pelvic organs. Exercise can also help with the minor discomforts of pregnancy such as varicose veins, back pain, leg cramps, swelling and constipation. Pregnant women exercisers overall have been found to gain approximately seven pounds less than those who didn’t.
Fit women who continue to workout through their pregnancy tend to have shorter and less complicated births with a marked decrease of medical intervention.
Fit pregnant women have more energy and recover much faster after delivery. They also return to their pre-pregnancy weight sooner than non-exercisers.
I’m healthy and have been exercising all my life and I just found out I’m pregnant. Do I need a clearance from my health care provider to workout at Prenatal Fit™ Gym?
If you are having a high risk pregnancy a documented verbal or written clearance from your physician is needed.
As a pregnant exerciser, how many times do I need to workout to be safe and productive? And at what intensity?
Pregnant women should exercise 3-5 times per week and at least 20 minutes or longer to see exercise associated benefits. The intensity should be at the level of comfort where one can breathe and maintain pelvic floor engagement (Kegel strength). One’s heart rate can surpass 140 b.p.m. This guideline was changed in 1994.
How does one Kegel correctly and safely?
The Kegel exercise is to contract the pelvic floor muscle. A Kegel is not engaging the glutes, thighs, or the abdominal muscles, but rather the interior muscles of the pelvic floor. Kegels are no longer practiced by stopping and starting the flow of urine because it could cause urinary tract infections by causing urine to flow backwards. Instead safe practice of Kegeling at red lights, waiting for the elevator, talking on the phone and/or brushing ones teeth with the goal of holding for up to 10 seconds is recommended up to 50 times per day!
What would be a good pre/post-exercise snack for a pregnant woman?
A complex ‘carb’ food with a protein mix makes a good snack. It should be eaten 1 to 2 hours before your workout and /or after. Peanut butter on toast, vegetables on a bagel, a strawberry smoothie, hummus and crackers, high fiber raisin cereal, trail mix, and yogurt with granola are examples of foods that can be eaten before or after exercising.
What kind of abdominal core work can I expect in a Prenatal Fit™ class?
During pregnancy, the abdominal muscle lengthens and thins over the expanding uterus. It is important to not neglect these muscles because they support a pregnant woman’s back and internal organs. We don’t do the typical abs crunches, but we adapt to safely accommodate a pregnant woman’s growing belly. Examples of abdominal exercises are ‘breathing ab crunches’. This is done by exhaling while pulling the navel, giving the baby a ‘hug.’ Many balancing exercises, done either standing or sitting on the ball, help engage the core functionally. We also do an abdominal exercise that helps with getting ready to push the baby out like the “coordinated pushing ab crunch.” Modified pilates roll downs and cat/cow rolls from yoga are also great abdominal exercises that are included in Prenatal Fit™ classes.