Although I had never given much thought to the fact that pregnant women exercise, it is an important reality to recognize for several reasons. One of the reasons is because ensuring the health of a mother as well as her unborn child is critically important and can be greatly enhanced or hampered by various exercise factors. In recognizing what these factors are, pregnant mothers can make prudent, informed decisions regarding exercise that will contribute to their health as well as that of their baby. Here are three exercise factors pregnant women should be aware of:
1. The Placenta Is The Most Critical Determinant Of Exercise Advisability.
If a pregnant woman’s placenta is not healthy, she may not be able to exercise during her term. This is the case because a placenta that is not functioning optimally can put stress on the fetal and maternal systems. For this reason, the ACE Group Fitness Instructor Manual states that “emphasis should be placed on early prenatal care, healthy lifestyle habits, and optimal prenatal nutrition to help ensure the growth of a healthy placenta” (178).
2. Kegel Exercises Are Very Important.
The ACE Group Fitness Instructor Manual defines kegel exercises as “controlled isometric contraction and relaxation of the muscles surrounding the vagina to strengthen and gain control of the pelvic floor muscles” (377). These exercises are very important because they can counteract pelvic floor weakness. The positive effects that result from kegel exercises include providing a healthy environment for the process of healing which will transpire following the labor and birth of a child as well as supporting the alignment of the pelvis. By placing emphasis on the development and maintenance of a healthy fetus, pregnant women can reap all of the benefits of exercise, such as a faster recovery from labor.
3. Some Exercises Are Not Recommended During Pregnancy.
Although exercise brings with it many great health benefits for pregnant women, this does not mean that women who are expecting should do every fitness routine under the sun. Some of the exercises that are not advisable include gymnastics, downhill skiing, and rock climbing. Other forms of exercise that should be avoided include snowboarding, diving, bungee jumping, and ice skating.
Exercising can be an advantageous enterprise for individuals at all stages of life, including pregnancy. Women who are pregnant can be sure to get great benefits from doing physical activity by learning basic facts about exercise as it pertains to their health as well as that of their child. In so doing, they can promote great health for themselves and their baby before and after birth.
Bryant, Cedric, Daniel J. Green, and Sabrena Merrill. ACE Group Fitness Instructor Manual. San Diego: American Council on Exercise, 2011.
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