The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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Each woman, and each pregnancy, is different, which is why there is no one-size-fits-all exercise prescription to follow if you want to keep working out for the whole nine months. New guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) encourage pregnant women who have no medical or obstetric complications to do moderate exercise for 30 minutes or more a day on most, if not all, days of the week. Some experts believe that may be too much, while highly active women probably consider these guidelines
too conservative. Even if you’re not sure what’s right for you, consider walking. It’s one of the
easiest ways to maintain strength and cardiovascular fitness, and it helps boost your mood,
too. Read on for our simple program, plus tips for exercising safely throughout your pregnancy.
The benefits of exercising while pregnant are
numerous and measurable and include the following:
> Improved body image
> More restful sleep and less insomnia
> Decreased constipation
> Decreased risk of gestational diabetes
> Better balance and posture
> Greater stamina for labor and delivery
> Speedier recovery after giving birth
There’s also the significant psychological boost that women get from working
out. “Physical activity gives pregnant women a more positive approach,” says Raul Artal, M.D., chairman of the department of obstetrics, gynecology and women’s health at Saint Louis University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “A mother who is healthy also will benefit the baby, because a healthy mother often means a healthy baby.”
It worked that way for Gaby Silverstein, a mother of two in the San Francisco area. She continued running until she was eight months pregnant with her first child, and seven months pregnant with her second. Silverstein says running has always made her feel better: “I like to feel fit, to feel strong and to moderate my weight gain.” As a bonus, during the first three months of pregnancy, Silverstein’s morning sickness actually disappeared for a few
hours after each run.
Don’t want to lift weights? Don’t have time for a yoga class? Start walking, using the exercise program below as a guide (as long as you have your doctor’s approval, of course). We’ve included directions for novice exercisers as well as active women (and see our “4 Must-Do Strengtheners”). Note: If exercise becomes uncomfortable or painful at any time, stop and call your doctor immediately.