Trying to get pregnant? Make sure you know the bottom line on baby-making—what you don't understand can affect your bub-to-be's health.
Read more »
I always thought I’d be one of those women who went into labor at the gym. Before I was pregnant, I competed in triathlons, biked centuries and climbed mountains. Once I got pregnant, I was determined not to slow down, as long as my activities wouldn’t harm my baby. It wasn’t long, though, before morning sickness and fatigue began to thwart my plans. In addition, I learned I was carrying twins, and discomfort from my growing belly made it hard to maintain a high-intensity exercise program past the fifth month.
Walking was my salvation. It kept me fit and comfortable throughout the nine months, and along the way I discovered what the experts are continuing to prove: that an active lifestyle has many benefits for pregnant women.
“Exercise won’t make a better baby or a more superior pregnancy, but it can help promote a normal pregnancy and prevent things that interfere with one,” says Larry Wolfe, Ph.D., director of the Clinical Exercise Physiology Lab at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, and co-developer of an exercise-readiness assessment for pregnant women. Staying active may cut your risk of preeclampsia, also called pregnancy-induced hypertension, and gestational diabetes, both of which are less common among active women. Prenatal exercisers also show less excess weight gain and fewer varicose veins and blood clots. Keep yourself moving and you’re likely to feel more energetic, less stressed and more comfortable in your daily chores as well.
prenatal walking program
Level Consider yourself inactive if you haven’t consistently been doing cardio work 2–3 times a week for at least 2 months.
The program The chart opposite outlines length, duration, pace, time (morning or afternoon, for split days) and place (outdoors or in) of your walks. It’s also divided by trimester. By varying time and intensity, you’ll be able to maintain your fitness level and not overtire as your pregnancy progresses.
The split days help you deal with exercise time constraints, as well as give you a way to increase your energy twice a day.
Treadmill walks are divided into intervals (fast segments followed by slower ones), as an efficient way of increasing aerobic conditioning without overexertion.
Frequency Do this walk routine 4–5 times a week. If possible, engage a partner to walk with you at least
once a week.
Warm–up Begin each walk at an easy pace for first 5 minutes; then stop to stretch calves, hamstrings, quadriceps and lower back.