Exercise is my favorite topic to discuss. I am one of those few people who actually loves to workout. But it hasn’t always been that way. Exercise for me was kind of an “acquired taste.” In fact, when I was young, you could call me a priss. I liked bows, dresses, and acrylic nails. The first time my parents forced me to go to soccer practice – I cried. I was not at all athletic, and not at all happy about playing sports or getting sweaty. After a few years of struggling through team sports, I started to enjoy it. But it wasn’t until half-way through college that I started running for fun and for exercise. Running quickly became my favorite form of exercise.
Pre-pregnancy, I ran or worked out at least 5 times per week. My workouts were typically anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours in length. I am not naturally thin – I work my butt off – literally. During the first trimester of pregnancy, I found that the only time I felt “normal” (energized, no nausea, etc.) was when I was working out. So I split my workouts up and exercised twice per day. I exercised once at lunch and once after work. I train a lot of clients in the gym, and many of them enjoy when I workout on cardio machines next to them – so I was able to get all of my workouts in, even when I was training a client. I kept up the same amount of exercise during the second trimester, and I plan to keep up the same amount throughout the third.
There are a lot of myths and misunderstandings regarding exercise while pregnant. Many people just assume that it is dangerous to exercise while pregnant. They are wrong. It is very healthy and important to workout during pregnancy, and there are countless benefits.
Here are just a few benefits of exercising during pregnancy:
- Exercise relieves stress and helps you maintain a more balanced emotional state
- Exercise strengthens your body and prepares it for labor and delivery
- Exercise during pregnancy prepares you for a faster recovery
- Exercise can help relive constipation and other unpleasant pregnancy symptoms
I have read countless articles about exercising during pregnancy, and the general rule of thumb seems to be that you can maintain your pre-pregnancy level of fitness during pregnancy. So, if you are considering getting pregnant in the near future- take the time NOW to ramp up your exercise program. Don’t wait until you are pregnant to start a workout program – this is both difficult and unsafe. If you need to lose weight and get to a healthy BMI (Body Mass Index), do so now! Read some of my general health and wellness posts to learn tips about starting an exercise program.
** Update to this blog post: I did maintain the same level of fitness and exercise intensity throughout my entire pregnancy. I had to cut down on my running a tad because the relaxin (hormone increased 10 times during pregnancy to loosen the pelvis) caused my pelvis to be a bit sore when I ran. I opted for elliptical machines and bikes. I was pregnant in the heat of the summer, so I tried to keep my workouts inside, to prevent overheating from outdoor workouts. I also did a lot of swimming toward the end.
I never missed a single workout during pregnancy, and I felt great the whole time! I didn’t have any swelling of my ankels at all either. The hard work certainly paid off. My labor and delivery was very quick and easy (less than 10 minutes of pushing) and I recovered at record pace. I was taking the dog for a walk two days after pregnancy, and working out at my pre-pregnancy/pregnancy fitness level in two week (with a “go-ahead” from my doctor, of course). Best wishes!