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The benefits of an active pregnancy

Lankenau Medical Center April 21, 2015 General Wellness

Pregnant woman doing cardiovascular exercisePregnancy can feel like the perfect time to take a break from your workout routine. You’re tired, making frequent trips to the bathroom, and dealing with unpleasant pregnancy symptoms like swollen ankles and back pain, none of which make exercise feel like a particularly pleasant experience.

That may be so, says Lankenau Medical Center OB/GYN Rachel Kramer, MD, but exercise is still an important aspect of a healthy pregnancy.

“Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health at any time, but especially during pregnancy. The healthy behaviors you practice during pregnancy are important for both a mother and her baby,” explains Dr. Kramer.

Although exercise can help you control your weight during pregnancy, Dr. Kramer says its benefits go far beyond that. An active pregnancy can prevent complications like high blood pressure, keep blood sugar levels under control, and postpartum depression, and even help ease pregnancy symptoms like back pain, trouble sleeping, decreased energy and mood swings.

“The benefits are incredible,” says Dr. Kramer.

Getting started

Before you begin any workout routine, talk to your physician about what is safe for you. Although exercise is safe for most women during pregnancy, those with a history of heart or lung disease, cervical problems, vaginal bleeding and other health problems may be referred to refrain from exercise.

Once you have been medically cleared to exercise, find a routine you enjoy and that you know you’ll stick with as your pregnancy progresses. For most women, 30 minutes of moderate activity four to five days per week is enough to reap the benefits of exercise. While some women prefer the ease and convenience of everyday walks, you can also try other options like swimming, cycling, jogging, or low-impact aerobics. Strength training is also permitted, but your doctor may recommend you avoid heavy weights.

No matter which workout you choose, Dr. Kramer reminds women to make adjustments if they feel uncomfortable.

“Allow time for warm up, cool down, and make sure you’re drinking water throughout your workout to remain hydrated,” she says. “You might have to take your routine more slowly than you’re used to, but that’s normal. Listen to your body and don’t overdo it. If you begin to feel uncomfortable, lightheaded, or out of breath, stop immediately and call your physician.”

Exercise is an important part of a healthy pregnancy. Talk to your physician to learn more about how you can get started. Visit our website to find a Main Line Health OB/GYN in your area.