Exercise while pregnant
Lt. Cmdr. Monica Leutgendorf, a Medical Corps physician at the Naval Medical Center Portsmouth OB/GYN clinic who is 24-weeks pregnant, and Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Teresa Arnold, who gave birth in May, exercise at the medical center gym. Most women benefit greatly from exercising throughout their pregnancies. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class William Heimbuch/Released)
Although you may not feel like running a marathon, most women benefit greatly from exercising throughout their pregnancies. But during that time, you'll need to discuss your exercise plans with your doctor or other health care provider early on and make a few adjustments to your normal exercise routine. The level of exercise recommended will depend, in part, on your level of pre-pregnancy fitness.
No doubt about it, exercise is a big plus for both you and your baby (if complications don't limit your ability to exercise throughout your pregnancy). With the right exercises, you can:
1. Feel better. At a time when you wonder how this strange body can possibly be yours, exercise can increase your sense of control and boost your energy level. Not only does it make you feel better by releasing endorphins (naturally occurring chemicals in the brain), appropriate exercise can relieve backaches and improve your posture by strengthening and toning muscles in your back and thighs.
2. Look better. Exercise increases the blood flow to your skin, giving you a healthy glow.
3. Prepare you and your body for birth. Strong muscles and a fit heart can greatly ease labor and delivery. Gaining control over your breathing can help you manage pain. And in the event of a lengthy labor, increased endurance can be a real help.
4. Regain your pre-pregnancy body more quickly. You'll gain less fat weight during your pregnancy if you continue to exercise. But don't expect or try to lose weight by exercising while you're pregnant. For most women, the goal is to maintain their fitness level throughout pregnancy.
Always talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Once you're ready to get going: Start gradually. Even five minutes a day is a good start if you've been inactive. Add five minutes each week until you reach 30 minutes.
Drink plenty of water to avoid overheating and dehydration, and opt for a walk in an air-conditioned mall on hot, humid days.
Above all, listen to your body.
Aimee Hennessee is a Camp Gladiator Trainer. Learn more at www.campgladiator.com.