Prenatal Exercise Myths... Exposed!
Concerned about what exercises you can or can't do during pregnancy? We debunk some of the most common prenatal exercise myths.
Myth: Pregnant Women Shouldn’t Exert Themselves
Au contraire! According to the 2002 ACOG guidelines, “Generally, participation in a wide range of recreational activities appears to be safe during pregnancy … In the absence of either medical or obstetric complications, 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise a day on most, if not all, days of the week is recommended for pregnant women.”
Myth: Don’t Lift or Carry Anything Heavy
Not only is weight lifting safe, strength training is actually encouraged by ACOG and the Academy of Sports Medicine (ACSM). If you exercised with weights or resistance bands before getting pregnant, you can continue with the same program as long as it’s comfortable for you. Upper body toning is a must for moms who will soon carry an 8-pound baby in one arm and a 5-pound diaper bag in the other—all day long!
Myth: The Best Prenatal Exercises Are Yoga and Water Aerobics
Pregnant women can go running, lift weights, use the elliptical machine, take boot camp classes, play non-contact sports, enjoy indoor cycling, and dance away the morning at Zumba class. Take care to avoid rough contact sports like soccer, football, and hockey that could injure the fetus. Also take a break from water skiing, skateboarding, roller skating, and horseback riding because of the increased risk of falls.
Myth: Abdominal Exercises Will Harm the Baby
Crunches and abdominal exercises are highly beneficial to pregnant women because strong core muscles relieve back pain and aid in pushing during delivery. Standard ab exercises like crunches, plank, and v-sitting moves are fine during early pregnancy when the fetus is tiny. However, lying flat on your back during the second and third trimesters is discouraged.
Myth: Exercise Causes Pre-Term Labor
There is no evidence that exercise causes preterm labor in healthy women with normal pregnancies. While staying fit won’t cause you to go into labor early, it can certainly help you deliver more easily. A 1990 study showed that women who exercised during pregnancy had a 30 percent shorter labor and fewer obstetric interventions such as forceps and C-sections.
Myth: Keep Your Heartbeat Under 140 Beats Per Minute
The 140 bpm limit makes no sense because every person’s resting heart rate is different and depends on their age and fitness level. Instead, ACOG recommends the RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) scale. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 feeling like nothing and 10 feeling like you’re about to throw up, pregnant women should exercise at a 5 and 8. The ACOG guidelines now say, “If you are able to talk normally, your heart rate is at an acceptable level.”
Myth: Exercise Results In Low Birth Weight Babies
Not true. As long as you’re eating a healthy diet, your growing baby will have all the nutrients it needs to flourish. On the other hand, by keeping an expectant mother’s blood sugar in check, exercise reduces her risk of gestational diabetes, a condition that often results oversized babies and surgical deliveries.
Myth: Your Doctor Knows Best
Your physician is the best person to monitor your pregnancy, but he or she might not be the right person to ask about exercise. A physician’s poll published in the February 2010 Journal of Women’s Health showed that 99 percent of doctors believed exercise was good for pregnant women, but 60 percent of MDs were still disseminating outdated exercise guidelines to their patients, some of it as much as 15 years out of date!
Myth: If You’re Sweating, You’re Overheating
On the contrary, sweating is a great indication that your body is actively cooling itself during exercise. You should, however, avoid artificially heating yourself up with hot tubs, saunas, or tanning beds. And you keep your body’s natural cooling system (sweating) running by drinking plenty of fluids during exercise and avoiding extreme workouts in the hot sun.
Myth: You Shouldn't Exercise While Pregnant If You Didn't Before
If you didn’t exercise before you got pregnant, pregnancy is a fabulous time for women to begin taking charge of their health. The ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) says if you were active before were pregnant, keep on going! And if you weren’t, start gradually, listen to your body, and build up to a routine of at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise. Brisk walking, light weights, and low-impact cardio classes are a great way to begin.
Myth: Yoga is the Safest Prenatal Exercise
Walking is probably the safest prenatal exercise. While yoga is a terrific form of stretching and muscle toning, take a few precautions. First, don’t lie flat on your back after your first trimester. This can cause a sharp drop in your blood pressure. Also, move slowly and cautiously into yoga poses that involve your hip and knee joints. An increased level of the hormone relaxin gives joints extra laxity, whcih can lead to injury when you stretch too deeply in poses.
Healthy Ways to Satisfy Your Pregnancy Food Cravings
Spice up your diet (and stay on the healthy track!) with these fun and tasty ideas to satisfy those pregnancy cravings!
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