Saturday, November 18, 2006

Prenatal and Postpartum Fitness and Exercise

Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy and After Pregnancy

Scientific studies consistently confirm the numerous and outstanding benefits of exercise during pregnancy both for the mother and her developing baby. These benefits are now widely recognized throughout the medical, birthing, and fitness communities.
The majority of studies on exercise during pregnancy collected data from previously fit and healthy women who continued their already active and healthy lifestyles during their pregnancies.

Pregnancy Presents a Unique Motivation to Begin or Continue an Exercise Program

Pregnancy affords a unique window of opportunity for women to actively engage in health-enhancing activities. Maternal concern for her baby increases the mother’s motivation to form better health habits during pregnancy. Physically active women are more likely to adopt other healthy lifestyle choices. Good habits established at this time can last a lifetime and provide profound benefits for the mother, baby, and other family members.

During Labour and Delivery, Fit Women Experience:

Easier adaptation to the lower-intensity endurance activity of early labor.

Shorter first and second stages of labour.

Enhanced pain tolerance.

Increased stamina for labour and delivery, with less perceived exertion during labour.

Lower incidences of intervention during labour.

Substantially fewer caesarian births.

Good pelvic muscle tone—resulting in fewer episiotomies/tearing.

Adherence to Strength, Cardiovascular and Flexibility Programs during Pregnancy also:

Boosts maternal immune-system function which continues to benefit her baby after birth through breastfeeding.

More efficiently delivers blood and oxygen to the heart and brain, enhancing concentration and energy-levels.

Helps manage or prevent gestational diabetes.

More effectively controls weight gain, which – in addition to physical benefits – enhances body image, confidence, and self-awareness.

Improves posture and results in fewer aches and pains.

Aids in quicker postpartum recovery.

Decreases incidence of falls.

Reduces stress, anxiety, and insomnia, imparting an overall improvement in sleeping patterns, possibly lowering risk for depression.

A larger placenta develops, which increases the capacity to exchange oxygen and CO2, and nutrients and waste products.

Increases the cardiovascular capacity of the baby.

Healthy Moms Raise Healthy Children

Healthy, active women are positive role-models and are more likely to pass on healthy lifestyles to their children. They also give birth to leaner, stronger, healthier babies, who may even have better motor-functioning and cardiovascular capacity as adults.

MEDICAL DISCLAIMER - All of the above information assumes that the mother-to-be is in good physical and mental health, and that her pregnancy is without risk factors or complications. Web site content is for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer medical advice, or replace the recommendations of your doctor, midwife, or physical therapist. Always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

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