Exercise During Pregnancy: Myth vs. Fact
Experts say what's safe and what's not safe when it comes to staying fit during pregnancy.
Myth or Fact: It's not safe to do abdominal work during pregnancy.
Myth. Not only is it OK, experts say abdominal workouts can provide many benefits.
"Your abdominals and your entire core, including your pelvic floor, should
be strengthened throughout pregnancy, and doing so will help not only during
pregnancy, but also aid in labor
and delivery -- and recovery," says Sue Fleming, a certified fitness
instructor. Fleming is also founder of Buff Fitness.com and creator of the
video Buff Moms-To-Be.
Moreover, Fleming says, it's going to help with posture problems which will
also benefit you after baby is born.
Because you should avoid any exercises that you have to do on your back
after the first trimester, Fleming suggests gentle standing pelvic tilts,
seated belly breathing, or tightening abs, holding, then releasing, as good
ways to keep ab muscles in top condition.
Myth or Fact: If you were a runner before pregnancy, you can continue to run during pregnancy.
Fact. As long as you and your pregnancy are healthy, and you feel OK,
experts say it's safe to run right up until you go into labor. "Both ACOG and
the National Academy of Sports Medicine have said that if you were running prior to pregnancy, you can continue during
pregnancy, as long as you feel OK," says Hruska.
If it does start to feel "odd," she says, listen to your body and don't do
it. She also reminds us that this is not the time to break any performance
records. "Also realize that as your pregnancy progresses, you're going to be
able to do a little less with each trimester. So don't compete with your
pre-pregnancy running achievements, or even with what you could accomplish in a
previous trimester," says Hruska. Talk to your doctor about your exercise plan
and any precautions that may pertain to your individual situation.
Myth or Fact: Pregnancy can make you more prone to certain fitness injuries.
Fact. During pregnancy, your body produces a hormone called
relaxin. It's designed to help lubricate joints so labor is easier. When
joints are too "lax," your risk of injury increases.
"What you want to avoid are any activities involving deep muscle or joint
movements -- heavy lunges, squats, those types of activities," says
Farrell warns us to be careful during the flexibility portion of any
workout. "You're going to find you have an increased range of motion, but
that's not necessarily a good thing, because it can lead to injury," says
Hruska. To avoid problems, she says, stay inside your pre-pregnancy range of
motion. "Just because you now find it easy to reach well beyond your toes,
doesn't mean you should!" says Hruska.