Don't Overdo It: Exercising Pregnant or Postpartum

Sifting the Chaff

When you're pregnant, or have just had a baby, it seems that everyone else knows better than you what's good for you. If they see you taking a power walk, for instance, they might tell you to take it easy, you're overdoing it. So, you're probably getting a lot of disparate advice. How do you sift the chaff from the wheat? How do you know how much exercise is enough, and how much is too much? Here are some good guidelines to follow:

Manageable Chunks

If your general health is good, you should be getting at least 150 minutes of medium intensity aerobic exercise, weekly. That comes out to 2 and a half hours every week. Try to break up the exercise into several manageable chunks of time. A perfect example of the right kind of exercise is power walking.

If you were into very strenuous aerobic exercise prior to pregnancy, for instance running, you can keep on with this program as long as your doctor approves and stays in the loop. Your routine may need some adjustments at various times during pregnancy and post delivery.

If you've never done much exercise before, or at least not on a regular basis, you should start with moderate intensity aerobic exercise but start gradually, increasing the level of activity as time goes by. There are two main types of physical activity you'll want to avoid during your pregnancy, and these include anything that is done in a prone position lying on your back, or anything which could pose a risk of falling or injury to your abdominal area, for instance, basketball, soccer, or horseback riding.

While 150 minutes per week may seem like a great deal of time spent on physical activity, it doesn't and in fact, shouldn't, be done all at one time but rather, should be spread out over the course of a week. You can even do several small stints a day to get in your decided daily allotment. The main thing to keep in mind is that your moderate or strenuous exercise period should last for 10 minutes per session, at a minimum.

As to all the well meaning strangers who insist on weighing in over your exercise regime, you can tell them that scientific evidence proves that the risks of moderate aerobic activity, for instance, brisk walking, are almost nil for a pregnant woman in good general health. Some of the worst rumors you've heard about exercise predisposing you to a multitude of complications including early miscarriage, premature delivery, and low birth weight, are simply unfounded. As to the really ridiculous accusations, such as exercise slowing your baby's growth, drying up your milk, or decreasing your milk supply, just try to be polite and refrain from rolling your eyes. Exercise makes you look and feel great so make the most of it during your pregnancy and after delivery, when you'll want to get fit again.

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