You're pregnant. Congratulations. This is a wonderful time in your life. As you prepare and plan for a nursery, crib, car seat, and formula, there may be one plaguing question that continually crosses your mind: is it okay to exercise while pregnant?
Pregnant women are often hesitant about exercising, fearing that a fitness regimen will increase fatigue and morning sickness or even put the baby at risk. But according to recent research, exercise can actually improve cardiovascular fitness and energy levels during pregnancy.
In fact, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise on most days of the week, unless you have a high-risk pregnancy.
Exercise can help to elevate mood and boost self-esteem, while decreasing fatigue and backaches. There's even some evidence that exercising while pregnant can prevent gestational diabetes and build the stamina needed for labor and delivery.
Shanna Missett Nelson, President of Jazzercise, Inc., has exercised during both of her pregnancies. As creator of the Pregnancy and Post Pregnancy Workouts by Jazzercise, Nelson offers these suggestions for women who wish to participate in fitness activities while pregnant:
- Exercise on a regular basis. Aim for three to five workouts per week. Regular, consistent workouts are more effective than intermittent ones.
- Wear cool, comfortable clothing and a well-fitted, supportive bra.
- Maintain good posture and alignment.
- Do not exercise in hot, humid weather.
- Do not exercise when you have a fever.
- Avoid any exercises on your back after your first trimester.
- Drink plenty of water before, during and after your workout to avoid dehydration.
- Modify any exercises that feel awkward or uncomfortable.
- Lower your intensity level if you feel increased fatigue while exercising.
- After performing floor exercises, get up slowly to prevent dizziness.
As always, consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
Judi Sheppard Missett, who turned her love of jazz dance into a worldwide dance exercise phenomenon, founded the Jazzercise dance fitness program in 1969. Today the program boasts more than 7,800 instructors teaching more than 32,000 classes weekly in all 50 states and 32 countries. The workout program, which offers a fusion of jazz dance, resistance training, Pilates, yoga and cardio box movements, has positively affected millions of people. Benefits include increased cardiovascular endurance, strength and flexibility, as well as an overall "feel good" factor. For more information go to jazzercise.com or call (800) FIT-IS-IT.