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Benefits of Exercise During Late Pregnancy

Posted Jan 16 2010 1:25pm
30 weeks and still going strong!!

It's hard to believe that I only have about 10 weeks left of this pregnancy to go! Each day my belly seems to get bigger and bigger, but (thankfully) my total body weight hasn't moved a pinch! So far, my total gain is about ~14 lbs and it's been over the last 8 weeks that it's stayed totally stable.

I know that may seem weird to some people, but as long as my baby is growing, the body fat I accumulated in the first trimester will not be missed at all!

You can see from the two pictures here that I look relatively normal for a fit pregnant woman, and I feel really fantastic! Yes, I have my off days, but for the most part, I've been able to train really hard at least once a day if not twice or three times (depends on how many times a day I am required to teach boot camps).

Yesterday and today were just single workout sessions, but they were pretty intense. Both were boot camp classes that involved 20:10 Tabata rounds for 20 mins followed by 50:10 intervals for another 22 minutes. Proceeding and following those rounds were active dynamic warmup followed by an active cool down and stretching.

Here is an example of what I did for one of the days of Tabata roundsRound 1 - eight 20 second repeats with 10 second rests of TRX jackknife pushups (4 mins)
Round 2 - as above, Med Ball Slam Downs with a 12 lb Dynamax Ball (4 mins)
Round 3 - ", Four point rows with 12 lbs DBs (4 mins)
Round 4 - ", Reverse Lunges (same leg 4x) with DB bicep curls (4 mins)
One minute rest between each round for about 20 mins.

Then, for the 50:10s1) Burpees
2) Speed Skaters
3) Slow Mtn Climbers
4) Body Weight Front Squats
5) High Knee Runs (for me, these were modified to High Knee to Elbow Touches because the pressure on my bladder from baby and the pressure on my lower belly was a bit intense)
This was repeated 4 times for about 22 mins.

Previously, before pregnancy, I still trained hard, but this type of interval training is amazing and so gratifying. I'm looking forward to continuing this after I deliver (probably following a bit of a break, if you know what I mean) and am excited to watch the fat melt off my body. Hey, if it can curtail fat gain during pregnancy when my fat storage hormones are surging and my sweet tooth is somewhat aggressive, I can just imagine what it'll do when I reach a normal baseline.

To all you pregnant ladies out there: we're learning each and every day how and why training during your pregnancy is so good for you AND your baby (NOTE: this information comes from one of the most prominent pregnancy and exercise researchers, Dr James Clapp III , who has studied many pregnant competitive Olympic athletes)
  • you accumulate less body fat
  • you have a positive sense of well-being and vigor when you might tend to be pessimistic, depressed or lethargic
  • you have a reduced incidence of upper respiratory tract infections (colds, sinusitis, etc)
  • you'll tend to have an easier, shorter and less complicated labour
  • you can actually IMPROVE your fitness level and physical performance (I can attest to that!)
  • your baby has developed an improved tolerance to stress and as such, can handle the stress of labour much better than a baby of a sedentary woman (i.e., fewer drops in heart rate with each contraction)
  • your baby has less body fat, but is still able to maintain it's body temperature
  • your baby will most likely be more mature at birth, meaning, they respond readily to environmental cues and will self-quiet themselves if disturbed when napping
  • your baby will also be a better sleeper (less likely to wake easily)
  • your baby will probably perform better on standardized intelligence tests as they advance in age
  • your baby will grow to be a less-fat adult (which is great news in our society of excess overweightness)
Remember: there's a balance between enough exercise for you and baby and too much. If you start feeling unwell during exercise, back off. For me, I've found a few exercises that make me sick: Swiss ball jackknife crunches make me a bit nauseous, so I've stopped doing them; too many jumping jacks or jump rope seem to put a lot of stress on my belly, so I've curtailed how much I do (same with high knee runs); prone positions are getting a lot harder to do (like prone T-raises), so I'm starting to take them out of my program.

Bottom Line: Exercise if you can, exercise if you're healthy. Not every woman is in this situation, but if you're well and have no complications, there should be no reason for you to give up something you love doing.

Stay strong!
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