Should You Work Out While Pregnant?

With this in mind, the instructions from a personal trainer can have positive influences on a pregnant woman's psychological, as well as physical, preparation for childbirth. Yet it is important to keep a realistic perspective on the role that exercise will have.

And of course, before any exercise program during pregnancy, any woman should check in with her doctor to receive an OK to start, to continue or to stop their program -- all of which depends on age, health and overall physical condition and injuries.

How to Exercise During Pregnancy?

Common sense is the best approach while pregnant during exercise. Here are some general guidelines to consider for an exercise program:

It would be wise to start exercising even before your pregnancy in order to establish baseline levels with which you can work once you do get pregnant. It would be best to work with a heart rate monitor to find out your maximum heart rate, your resting heart rate and your heart rate recovery time for purposes of comparison and tracking your progress. Keep in mind that your resting heart rate increases during pregnancy. Also, women who exercise and then become pregnant are used to the feeling of intense workouts versus women who have never exercised. Already pregnant? Pay attention to your body when you work out; exercising just to the point of being a bit out of breath or having a flushed complexion will tell you that you are working at a good indication of intensity.

To prevent back pain from a slouching posture, you should strengthen the muscles in the upper back. This can be done fairly simply with an exercise rubber band. You can exercise from a sitting position, legs straight out in front of you, by placing the band around your feet and pulling it toward the body in a rowing motion.

As the abdominals relax and lengthen, simple strategies should be implemented to strengthen the abdominal groups, such as the transverse abdominals and rectus abdominis, as these are key muscle groups when it comes to pushing the child through the birth canal. These exercises can include activities as simple as pulling the navel button toward the spine.

To strengthen the pelvic floor, women should perform contractions of the pelvic floor known as Kegel exercises, or simply as "kegels." Because the rectus abdominis, transverses abdominals and pelvic girdle belong to the core, which is necessary to give stability in any movement, balance work should also be done moderately, within levels of comfort.

As with any exercise program, the shape an individual is in should be the determining factor of how long and hard they should be exercising. Just recently, the New York City Marathon was won by a woman who trained during pregnancy. Of course, this is a healthy individual who was used to long distance running and high intensity cardiovascular training.

U.S. health officials recommend that individuals exercise for 2.5 hours per week (roughly 30 minutes per day, at least five days a week) to stay healthy and manage weight. This general rule is applicable to pregnant individuals as well.

Optimum fitness levels during pregnancy are beneficial to both mothers and their unborn infants. This is not a good time to pursue maximum fitness goals, but rather to focus on maintaining a good fitness level. Women should make sure to have a physician's approval for exercise during pregnancy and until three months after delivery.

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