At 23 weeks pregnant I am definitely already reaping the benefits of a continued weights and cardio exercise program. After having quite a serious back injury I was always worried at the thought of falling pregnant and adding an extra load to an already injured back. Since getting through the first 3 months I have got back into a regular exercise program, including 2 weights sessions, 1 body weight session and as many low-moderate cardio sessions as I can fit in and I couldn't feel better.
Research has determined that remaining active during pregnancy offers several benefits to the mother and to the future newborn as well. The key to reaping such benefits is to adjust your exercise program in order to make it safe for yourself and your baby during this period and to keep in mind that the goal of exercising during this period is to maintain your present level of fitness, not to improve.
The benefits that exercise offers to expecting mothers include:
- Speedier recovery after delivery.
- Increased sense of well-being and self-esteem during and after pregnancy.
- Less leg cramps.
- Larger placenta which in turn provides an increased nutrient base for the baby.
- Decrease the risk of excessive weight gain caused by an increase of fat storage.
- Stronger lower back which in turn reduces the risk of lower back pains.
- Boost in energy levels.
- Decrease the likelihood of varicose veins.
- Reduced chances of having a Caesarean birth.
- Higher chances of achieving labour either a few days earlier or on time.
- Exercise helps prepare the body for the stresses imposed by labour and delivery.
- Shortened labour time (who doesn't want that?).
The amount of exercise that mothers to be will be able to tolerate during these 9 months is directly related to how active they were before becoming pregnant. If a woman has never exercised before in her life, this is not the time to start a full blown weight training and intense cardio program. As women, we get told so many different things that we can and can't do throughout pregnancy and I think this scares most of us out of doing anything. Just remember to listen to your own body and to your gut instinct. Reap the Rewards!
Elle Harper*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.