Pregnant? Hurry! Run! Work Out!

Cynthia Dermody
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pregnant belly
Flickr photo by Joe Shlabotnik

Just taking a stab here, but you're probably not exercising enough. And why would you? You're cranky, heavy and swollen. Conditions like that call for five hours on the couch not 30 minutes on the elliptical. And now you know you are not alone in feeling this way.

Only 25 percent of pregnant women get enough exercise, according to researchers at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, which conducted a study of 1,000 pregnant women.

White women with insurance were the ones most likely to adhere to the American College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians' recommendation for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week. Women were also more likely to work out in their first trimester, not in their second or third.

Staying active during pregnancy helps to reduce backaches, constipation, bloating, and swelling; helps to prevent or treat gestational diabetes; increases energy; improves mood; promotes muscle tone, strength and endurance, and helps improve sleep patterns, according to emaxhealth.com.

The website offered some guidance to help you become more active. Basically, start by doing 5 minutes each day till you reach the full 30:

  • Walking is the most common form of exercise during pregnancy, but most all forms are safe including swimming, stationary cycling, and low-impact aerobics.
  • Higher-impact sports such as running and strength training can be safe for women who were already participating in these activities before pregnancy.
  • Potentially dangerous activities include downhill snow skiing, gymnastics, horseback riding, contact sports (soccer, basketball), and scuba diving.
  • After the first trimester, avoid doing exercises on the back, like poses performed lying down in yoga.
  • Warning signs to be on the lookout for are vaginal bleeding, dizziness or feeling faint, increased shortness of breath, chest pain, headache, muscle weakness, calf pain or swelling, uterine contractions, decreased fetal movement, or fluid leaking from the vagina.

This is just general advice. Consult your doctor or midwife before starting any exercise program while pregnant.

How much exercise are you getting during your pregnancy?

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