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Women who maintain an active lifestyle during and after pregnancy are also more likely to feel good about themselves after baby’s arrival, according to a 1999 University of Michigan study. “Those who defined themselves as vigorous exercisers were consistently and significantly more satisfied with their lives, their partners, their roles as mothers and their outlooks on life,” says the study’s lead researcher, Carolyn M. Sampselle, Ph.D., R.N.C., professor of nursing in obstetrics-gynecology at the University of Michigan.
Listen to Your Body “Don’t push yourself to exhaustion,” warns Marcos Pupkin, M.D., chairman of the OB-GYN department and director of the Center for Women’s Health and Medicine at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. “As your pregnancy progresses and your blood has fewer oxygen-carrying red blood cells, it’s normal to feel more tired. So if all you can do is 15 minutes, that’s fine.” To make sure you don’t overdo it, review your exercise routine with your doctor. Also, avoid exercises in which you lie on your back, as well as those that could result in a fall. Keep these safety tips in mind as well:
Drink up Consume at least 8 ounces of water before exercising and 8 ounces for every 15 to 20 minutes of activity.
Fuel up Your body needs extra calories. Make sure you gain the recommended 25 to 35 pounds.
Don’t overheat Avoid steam rooms, saunas and hot tubs.
Know the warning signs Stop exercising and see your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms: pain, fever, bleeding, faintness, cramping, ringing in the ears, persistent headaches, absence of usual fetal movement, sudden swelling, difficulty in walking or tachycardia (abnormally rapid heartbeat) after exercising. On the days when the couch threatens to win you over, look to the future. “Making time for exercise takes a lot of planning,” says Rowell. “But ... I know that it makes me a better mom and wife.”
Fit Pregnancy fitness editor Linda Shelton teamed up with exercise pro Kathy Stevens to develop a workout filled with activities a woman can do throughout the day to stay fit, active and healthy. Start with our Good Morning wake-up exercises to realign your body and get you ready for your day; then strengthen your muscles either at the gym or at home with a dumbbell workout. We’ve included some easy stretches that soothe aches and pains for moms-to-be who work long hours at their desks or on their feet. At lunch time, take an energy break and go for a walk or swim. Finally, after work, de-stress with restorative yoga poses to help you relax and sleep well.
Try these exercises to realign your body and help you start the day off with better posture.
1. Spine aligner Stand with your back against a wall, touching it with your heels, shoulders and head; then press the back of your neck and lower back as close to the wall as possible. (You will have to tilt your pelvis back.) Hold for 3 slow breaths and then release.