While formerly thought to be dangerous, exercising while pregnant can actually be a good idea. Pregnant women can and should exercise daily, according to new research.
Working out has been frowned upon for pregnant women in the past. Many of these women who do exercise while pregnant have been judged or ridiculed, while the majority of pregnant women avoid exercise altogether. Often, the reasoning has been based in fear of danger to the fetus. However, studies have repeatedly shown that moderate exercise during gestation can benefit both the baby and the mother.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recently updated its recommendations to state that pregnant women should exercise 20 to 30 minutes per day, although they have long supported daily workout habits. However, studies have shown that pregnant women rarely meet these recommendations, even when including walking as a mode of transportation. Thus, pregnancy has led to more obesity in the United States than many realize. The authors of a review recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association state that exercising daily can prevent gestational weight gain, which can later lead to obesity in women and even in their children if the weight gain is excessive.
The author of the viewpoint, Alejandro Lucia, firmly believes that “within reason, with adequate cautions, it’s important for [everyone] to get over this fear.” He also states that even if the pregnant woman did not previously lead an active lifestyle, beginning an exercise regimen while pregnant is not dangerous and can be beneficial to the mother and child.
Of course, exercise must be done with caution to protect the mother and child, especially during the final months of gestation. Especially for women with previous health conditions, such as heart disease, anemia, or those at high-risk during their pregnancy, it is important to tread with caution before jumping on the treadmill. For all expectant mothers, it is recommended to avoid exercises that cause the heart rate to exceed 90 percent of their maximum heart rate. This avoids any risk of diverting blood flow from the placenta. It is also recommended to avoid long distance running or heavy weight lifting, as these activities may cause undue stress on the body and the fetus.
The right kind of exercise for this time in a woman’s life is anything in moderation. While the fear has been that any type of exercise can endanger the baby, that has been proven false, as exercise can actually benefit both mother and child. The first step to starting or continuing an exercise routine while pregnant is to consult the family obstetrician or gynecologist and to receive approval. Once that is done, women are free to begin exercising as they wish, within the guidelines. Not only will it benefit them during pregnancy, but also keep them healthier postpartum as well.