Fit Facts: Stay Healthy

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Stay Active During Pregnancy

Exercise during pregnancy is not only safe, but can be beneficial, reported James Pivarnik, Ph.D., at a recent American College of Sports Medicine conference. Although overexertion or training for an athletic competition is not recommended during pregnancy, moderate, frequent exercise offers many benefits. It can help keep pregnancy weight gain in check, may prevent gestational diabetes and pregnancy-induced hypertension, and could reduce the length of labor. A strength-training program using modified weights and more repetitions may also be beneficial, as long as the expectant mom takes care to maintain regular breathing throughout each repetition. Consult with your doctor to create the best exercise plan for you.

Avoid Fractures

Female athletes on low-calorie diets may be at a higher risk for stress fractures, according to a study published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine. Not eating enough calories can cause decreased levels of estrogen, which may affect bone development, creating an increased risk of fractures. Eat a well-rounded diet and consult with a sports nutritionist to be sure you are getting all the necessary nutrients to avoid exercise-related leg pain and stress fractures.

Go Fast When Time Crunched

When it's not possible to get in your full workout, short bursts of high-intensity sprints may work just as well, says a new study by researchers at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. Cyclists who completed 18 to 45 minutes of interval training with
30-second all-out sprints over a seven-week period significantly improved their aerobic capacity and endurance.

Eat Yogurt to Ward off Colds

Intense exercise can weaken the immune system, making some endurance athletes more prone to respiratory viruses, such as colds and the flu. The probiotic lactobacillus, a beneficial bacteria commonly found in yogurt, may reduce the length of respiratory illnesses in endurance athletes, according to recent research reported in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. In a study involving 20 elite endurance athletes, those taking probiotics experienced cold symptoms for less than half the number of days than athletes taking placebos. Researchers theorize the probiotics not only improve digestive health, but may also boost the immune system.

TRY THIS

Strengthen Your Back
Back pain is one of the most common reasons athletes visit their doctors. Perform the following exercise three times a week to help build and maintain functional strength and prevent back injuries.

BIRD DOG: On your hands and knees, hold light dumbbells and wear ankle weights on each leg. Lift your right arm and left leg simultaneously until both are parallel to the ground, keeping your back straight. Slowly return to starting position and switch. Repeat 10 times on each side.

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