Excuse me ladies, while I take away your pregnancy card for a minute.
While there have been (and will continue to be) many completely justifiable situations that have merited the pregnancy card, exercise isn’t one of those — despite what you may have heard.
I’m just going to lay it out — exercise during pregnancy is good. Very good. In all reality, there are very few circumstances where it isn’t. I know how much you would love to use pregnancy as your ticket to take a nine-month break from anything that involves physical activity, but trust me, you’ll be sorry later. Nine months later to be exact. Here’s why:
Exercise can help alleviate some of the common pregnancy woes — back pain (by strengthening the muscles that support the back) and increased circulation (which means less varicose veins, leg cramps, swollen ankles, and a couple other things that I don’t really want to delve into on a public blog — feel free to look them up).
Exercise can help lull you into a more peaceful, deeper slumber — which will continue to get more difficult as the pregnancy goes on. Believe me, you will want all the help you can get when it comes to sleep.
Exercising throughout pregnancy will help decrease unnecessary weight gain, making it easier to lose the pounds post-baby.
Exercise has been shown to make you feel good. Something to help balance the crazy hormones? Sign me up! This was one of the best benefits for me. I felt like it was the one thing that made me feel like myself, and I craved that.
Exercise can help prepare your body (and mind) for childbirth. It increases the strength of your muscles and your cardiovascular system, both of which you will use extensively during labor and delivery. I have no doubt that my weekly strength and spinning classes contributed to my awesome delivery and recovery. Both the physical and mental endurance you develop through exercise can help you go through labor like a champ.
Exercise will give you more energy throughout the day. Sure, during your sweat fest at the gym, you may not be feeling energetic. However, increasing your endurance and strengthening your muscles will make it easier to do everyday tasks that will become increasingly more difficult as your belly expands (rolling over in bed, anyone?).
Have I convinced you yet? In case you don’t believe me, go here and here to read more.
That being said, there are things you need to be careful of.
Always consult your doctor to get the OK before you start any exercise program.
Avoid exercising to the extent of being breathless. Also avoid contact sports, exercising in hot weather, and lying flat on your back (once you get into your 2nd trimester).
Above all, listen to your body.
Alright, I’ll get off my pro-exercise soap box. I guess that’s what a degree in Exercise Science has done to me. See ya at the gym, ladies.
Stay tuned this week for the first Belly Mamas giveaway!