By Joli Guenther, MSSW, NASM
Now that your exercise habits affect both of you, maintaining a home fitness routine during pregnancy makes a lot of sense. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends being active for 30 minutes on most, if not all, days during pregnancy and cites reductions in backaches, bloating, constipation and gestational diabetes as just a few benefits of activity. Additionally, recent research shows better long term heart health for babies of mothers who exercise during their pregnancy (see our February Blog for more on that). Check out ACOG's recommendations and don't forget to talk to your doctor about your exercise program (or plan for one) during your next prenatal appointment. Here are just a few tips for getting started or maintaining your pregnancy exercise program using your home fitness equipment.
Getting Started: As long as you've received the all-clear from your doctor, feel free to begin walking on a treadmill or using a recumbent bike. These low-impact activities are doable for nearly everyone and will reduce your risk of many pregnancy complications. Work up to 30 minutes per day of a moderate intensity (ask your doctor what this should feel like for you). You can also add in some strength training every other day to get your body ready for the demands of motherhood. Here are some great pregnancy exercises.
Staying Strong: If you're already putting your treadmill or elliptical through their paces, there's no reason to change your routine now that you're running for two. ACOG recommends that mothers-to-be continue previous activities, as long as the risk of falling or abdominal trauma is small. Using your home fitness equipment is a great idea during pregnancy as it allows you to cushion the impact of your workout, control the climate (overheating is a big no-no, especially in the first trimester) and easily monitor the intensity of your workout. Finding a doctor who is comfortable working with pregnant athletes can be a big help in getting the support you need during your pregnancy and determining appropriate guidelines for your workouts. Although you don’t want to reach serious oxygen deprivation, don't be afraid to work hard if you're already used to a good workout. Research is starting to show that fitter mothers produce fitter babies.
Adapting your Routine: Whatever your plans for training through pregnancy keep them flexible and celebrate your victories each week (or each workout). At the moment, I'm 33 weeks pregnant with our second child and have cut my workouts back to a minimum maintenance level: One "run" per week, one strength building workout, and one intense cardio interval session. This gives me a break from the soreness that comes from repeating the same activity late in my pregnancy and lets me feel like I've accomplished something (only six more runs until I deliver!). I try to mix in a little yoga with or without my toddler present, but find that I need to really listen to what's going on with my body to be sure that it leaves me feeling better rather than overstretched and sore. Scheduling an easy week every month or two, during which I do only recovery workouts (if any) has also been key to staying motivated and uninjured during this pregnancy.
If you're looking for more tips on exercising during pregnancy and keys to adapting your workouts you can check out this blog from my first pregnancy or these exercise guidelines at American Pregnancy.
Weigh In: Are you motivated to continue (or start) using your home fitness equipment during pregnancy? Do you have any tips to share?