Fit for two
By Kat Carney
CNN Headline News
(CNN) -- Regular exercise goes a long way towards weight maintenance, heart health, and even stress management. But pregnant women reap those benefits and more.
According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), regular bouts of physical activity can help reduce some of the bothersome problems associated with pregnancy, including leg cramps, varicose veins, insomnia and fatigue.
Exercising while pregnant can also improve posture, mood and possibly prevent or treat gestational diabetes.
While everyone is encouraged to check with their doctor before starting an exercise program, this warning is even more important for women embarking on a prenatal fitness program.
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) cautions that hormonal and other changes in the body can dramatically affect a pregnant woman's ability to exercise. Activities that involve jumping or quick changes in direction are not recommended, nor is exercising to the point of exhaustion.
Recommended activities for all fitness levels include walking, swimming and cycling. If a more structured program is desired, several companies have produced fitness videos with the pregnant woman's needs in mind.
Leisa Hart's "Fit Mama: Prenatal Workout" was created according to ACOG guidelines and features a balance of cardiovascular exercise, stretching and even a "labor prep" section with abdominal and Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor.
For those expectant moms short on time, "Quick Fix: Prenatal Workout" features three 10-minute workouts targeting the upper, lower and abdominal regions of the body, using a chair that assists with the balance challenges many pregnant women face.
ACE cautions pregnant women who experience symptoms including uterine contractions, vaginal bleeding, faintness or any other physical adversities to stop exercising immediately and call their doctor.