Pregnancy can complicate a lot of things, but one thing it shouldn’t complicate is a regular gym routine. Staying in shape and healthy exercise habits are key to making a pregnancy seem less like a chore and more like a mild change in one's midsection’s scenery.
And according to Dr. Karen Krieg of Rowan Medicine’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, keeping up with a fitness regimen can even make labor easier and help new moms to recover faster.
“Having stronger and more toned muscles helps the body recover quicker and more efficiently when something happens to those muscles, and the same theory applies to pregnancy,” said Dr. Krieg. “When you strengthen muscles through exercise, it does not take as long for them to heal, and the body can handle the stress of labor better.”
One of the key aspects of regular exercise is the release of endorphins into the bloodstream. These are the “feel good” chemicals that runners sometimes call a “runner’s high”. It takes a lot of work to get these naturally-occurring body-buzz drugs to come out from the brain, but they’re super important to both mental and physical health.
But what about those of us who are complete couch potatoes? Is exercise still out of the question now that there's got a bowling ball living inside our bellies? Not at all. Clearly, we’re not going to start off in a marathon while in the third trimester, but getting more exercise is way better than not doing anything, and there are plenty of easy things anyone can do to get active.
First and foremost: walk. Walking is great exercise for those that aren’t used to it as it strengthens everything that needs it to start building on later. For those who already go jogging or running, keep up the pace! Eventually, a baby might make that a little difficult, and at that point, it’s okay to switch to the elliptical machine to make things a little easier to manage in terms of balance and weight on the knees.
Yoga is a great way to stretch those muscles and strengthen the core and lower back. Squats are always a key exercise that everyone should do, and pregnant women are no exception. They’ll keep a pregnant momma standing when other ladies are ready to topple over.
In general, whatever exercise pregnant moms were doing before the bump, they should keep doing. The only thing to avoid is falling over, so stay planted and keep pushing those limits!