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How to Have a Fit Pregnancy: The Benefits of Exercising During Pregnancy

written by: Finn Orfano • edited by: KJ Fitness,Ink • updated: 1/29/2009

Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to curb your exercise routine during pregnancy. The benefits of exercising during pregnancy are many, and can help you stay physically strong while you improve your mood.

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    The Benefits of Exercising During Pregnancy

    It can be tempting to want to kick back during pregnancy. However, if you were a relatively active woman prior to conceiving, you shouldn’t swear off exercise for nine months. Exercise and pregnancy really go hand in hand. Thanks to new research, studies show that exercising during pregnancy—no matter what your level of physical fitness—can have great benefits.

    Exercising during pregnancy can ease common discomforts such as backaches, ankle swelling, and fatigue. Strengthening core muscles that support the uterus can also help prepare a woman for the rigors of childbirth. In addition to providing physical benefits, exercising while pregnant also reduces stress and can make a woman feel better about her changing body.

    For many years, doctors counseled highly active patients to forgo high intensity workouts during pregnancy. But now new research shows that if you have maintained a high level of fitness consistently before your pregnancy, it is safe to continue your intense workouts. For highly conditioned athletes, high intensity workouts will not harm a fetus. Athletes may still need to modify the type of exercise they do as their bodies changes throughout pregnancy, but they will not necessarily have to stop exercising altogether or even slow down.

    According to Dr. James Klapp III, author of “Exercising Through Your Pregnancy,” pregnant athletes have easier, healthier pregnancies when they continue strenuous workouts.

    But it’s important to note that not every woman can be called an athlete. Only 20% to 30% of people get regular exercise, so the typical pregnant woman is not used to getting regular physical activity. And pregnancy is not the time to kick it up a notch.

    Even so, if a woman has never exercised prior to getting pregnant, she can still do some form of low-impact exercise during pregnancy. Doctors advise that, as a general rule, a pregnant woman should continue being as physically active as she was prior to conceiving.

    The key to exercising safely during pregnancy is to pay attention to your body. Overexertion is very dangerous for fetuses, so if a pregnant woman feels any kind of fatigue, she should immediately stop. Doctors recommend paying attention to your breathing to gauge your level of fatigue. If you cannot perform your exercise and speak comfortably at the same time, your workout is too intense for pregnancy.