11. You’re likely to be fitter in middle age. In a study that followed women for 20 years after delivery, those who’d exercised throughout pregnancy could run two miles 2 ½ minutes faster than those who’d taken a workout break while pregnant. The continuous exercisers were also working out a lot more.
12. You’ll get positive attention. Everyone smiles when they see a pregnant woman on a power walk. No one is more popular at the gym than the pregnant woman on the biceps machine!
13. You feel less like a beached whale and more like a hot mama. Women who exercise throughout pregnancy have a better body image than those who sit out the nine months.
14. Your labor may be shorter. A landmark study found that among well-conditioned women who delivered vaginally, those who had continued training throughout their pregnancy experienced active labor for 4 hours and 24 minutes compared with 6 hours and 22 minutes for those who’d quit training early on. Two hours less of hard labor is nothing to sneer at!
15. You learn to chill out. With its emphasis on breathing, meditation and joyful movement, prenatal yoga helps stressed-out moms-to-be stay calm. Plus, a regular prenatal yoga practice can teach you to relax rather than tense up when you feel discomfort, a helpful skill during labor.
16. If you work out in water, you enjoy a wonderful sense of weightlessness. For some women, swimming or water aerobics may provide their only relief from painful foot and ankle swelling.
17. You’ll likely experience less leg swelling. Your body retains more fluid during pregnancy, and your growing uterus puts pressure on your veins, impairing the return of blood to your heart. Exercise can limit swelling by improving blood flow.
18. You may be less prone to morning sickness. Though nausea stops many women from exercising, many moms-to-be report that they feel less queasy after a workout or that the exercise takes their minds off the nausea for a short time.
19. You may boost your child’s athletic potential. One study found that 20-year-olds who were exposed to exercise in utero performed better at sports than same age peers whose mothers did not exercise during pregnancy.
20. You’ll bounce back faster after delivery. Compared with new moms who were inactive during pregnancy, those who exercised are more likely to socialize and enjoy hobbies and entertainment post-baby. They just seem to cope better with the demands of new motherhood.
21. You’re likely to be healthier and leaner when your kids head off to college. Twenty years later, fit women who’d exercised throughout pregnancy had gained 7 ½ pounds, compared with 22 pounds for women who had taken a break while pregnant and resumed exercising afterward. The continuous exercisers also had lower cholesterol levels and resting heart rates.
22. The sense of accomplishment and confidence spills over to the rest of your life. Finishing a prenatal power walk makes you feel like you can conquer the world!
23. Your child may have a healthier heart. The developing babies of prenatal exercisers have more efficient hearts than those of non-exercisers, and this higher cardio fitness level seems to last into the childhood years.