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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Pregnancy and Exercise: Part III

This is the third post in a series. The series is dedicated to exercising while pregnant, and there is a lot to know, so keep reading! Not pregnant? Share this series with someone who might be. But I warn you, if you are sharing this with your pregnant wife, TREAD CAREFULLY (she may take it the wrong way)!

Making the choice to exercise during your pregnancy? Good for you! Here is what you need to know about the frequency, intensity, time and type (FITT Formula) of exercises that are appropriate for healthy pregnancies.

Cardio FITT Formula for Pregnancy
First things First: You need to be able to monitor your own comfort and fatigue levels. You are responsible for how you are feeling at all times when you are exercising. Always listen to your body for warning signals and acknowledge your personal limits.

Frequency: Your frequency of exercise depends on your level of fitness, how the pregnancy is progressing, the intensity and type of activity. Three days per week is the minimum amount needed in order to achieve any benefits. Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes (or more depending on your fitness level) of cardio per day. That time can be broken up (two 15 minute segments, three 10 minute segments, etc) depending on how you are feeling (exhausted!) during your day. Aim for a minimum of 4 days per week, taking days off when you feel the need to do so.

Intensity: Rate of Perceived Exertion-this is the best way to monitor your workload when exercising. It is a scale of 1-10, 1 being the equivalent of laying in bed, 10 the equivalent of being chased by a stranger with a buzz saw, and a non pregnant workout between an 7-9. During a pregnant work out, you want to be a 4-6 on your exertion scale. This exertion level should not be accompanied by discomfort or undue fatigue. If this is the case, you may need to decrease the intensity or duration of your workout.

Type: You should do cardio/aerobic training that you enjoy doing, and feel comfortable doing. For example, if you have been doing step aerobics and enjoy them, continue to do so with the help of an instructor who will modify high impact exercises for you, or will have you remove a riser or two. As your body grows and changes, what you are able to do may change, so remain flexible in your activities. You will want to avoid any kind of contact sport, downhill skiing and scuba diving, though.

Special Considerations:

-Good Shoes: When you are pregnant, every part of you is pregnant, even your feet. Make sure that you are wearing good supportive shoes. Many pairs of feet grow during pregnancy so your current shoe may no longer fit. If you can, go to a store where a sales person can help you decide if you need a supportive, controlling or high arched shoe.

-Good sports bras: Another part that needs special care when you are working out is your breasts. Make sure they are well supported during exercise especially. Supportive sports bras can be found in a wide variety of stores (from Target to Scheels), and should not be overlooked.

Pregnant and isolated? Check out for a community of experts and women who come together to support each other during this tumultuous time!

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