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The Importance of Physical Fitness During Pregnancy

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It is good for any woman to be physically fit throughout her life. However, being in good physical condition before becoming pregnant is substantial. Being fit helps a woman's body meet the physical demands of carrying and delivering a baby. Regular exercise reduces the occurrence of common pregnancy ailments. Unless a doctor decides against it for medical reasons, pregnant women can and should be active before, during and after pregnancy.

It is recommended that pregnant women keep their exercises at a moderate level. Running isn't recommended unless the mother was a runner before she became pregnant, especially in the third trimester. Some very helpful exercises can include: Rhythmic and repetitive activities such as walking, bicycling, and swimming are difficult enough to demand increased oxygen to the muscles, but not so difficult that the need for oxygen exceeds the supply (Clapp 1). These activities enhance the ability to process and use oxygen, and improve blood circulation, which in turn increases the transportation of nutrients and oxygen to the baby. They also decrease the risk of hemorrhoids, fluid retention and varicose veins. They increase muscle tone and strength and also help to build endurance. These exercises promote better sleeping and more confidence (Hudson 3). The second type of exercise is especially designed for pregnancy. Calisthenics are rhythmic exercises that are light gymnastics movements that develop and tone muscles, which can also promote better posture. This type of exercise significantly helps to relieve any backache that a woman could be experiencing and it prepares the body for childbirth. The third exercise includes relaxation techniques, which help to conserve energy for when it really needs to be used. It helps assist the mind to focus and increase awareness. The fourth type, Kegel exercises, is where the woman contracts the vaginal muscles, as if to stop the flow of urine. This strengthens the muscles that surround the openings of the urethra, vagina and anus, which can become weak due to the constant pressure of pregnancy.

It has been shown through studies that exercising aids in strength, flexibility, muscle tone and endurance, all in which help in areas such as carrying extra weight, preparing for the physical stresses of labor and contributing in shedding the pounds postpartum (Gulino 2). Exercise also helps in relieving that excess weight gain, swelling, varicose veins, fatigue and leg cramps. It helps to prevent depression and establish confidence both before and after labor. Exercise lowers stress and improves emotional health. It has been shown through studies that women who exercise during pregnancy have shorter labors as well as a decreased need for painkillers and an epidural during labor and delivery (Hudson 1).

A good pregnancy program that is built into a woman's daily lifestyle has its many benefits. Some helpful hints on what to do are to exercise three to four times a week avoiding bouncy movements that can just snap the muscles like a rubber band. Take a pulse



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