By Micky Marie Morrison, PT, ICPFE
There are so many reasons to exercise throughout life, but while you are pregnant it is particularly important to keep moving. Even if you didn’t exercise before pregnancy, as long as your doctor approves, you should start a prenatal fitness program in order to increase your odds of a healthy pregnancy and birth experience.
So, before you reach for that gym bag, here are the five main reasons every expectant moms should exercise regularly:
1. Fewer aches and pains during pregnancy. Most of the “normal” discomforts associated with pregnancy result from postural changes and muscle tightness that can be reduced or eliminated with the appropriate exercises.
2. Reduced chances of a Cesarean section. A recent study in Spain concluded that exercising at least 3 times a week throughout pregnancy reduces your risk for a C-section birth.
3. Fewer pounds added during pregnancy. Not surprisingly, women who exercise regularly while pregnant gain less weight than women who do not. That means less baby weight to take off after baby comes.
4. Rapid recovery after childbirth. With increased muscle tone from months of exercising the muscles weakened during pregnancy and less weight to lose afterward, women who perform targeted prenatal exercise regularly throughout pregnancy recover more quickly after giving birth.
5. Improved overall fitness for years after giving birth. A long-term study recently showed that women who had exercised during pregnancy maintained long-term fitness and a healthy weight and had reduced cardiovascular risk when they reached menopause when compared to women who did not exercise while pregnant.