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It may be obvious that making healthy choices during pregnancy is a good idea for moms-to-be, but what those choices should be often leads to a lot of discussion and controversy. Plenty of women keep up their fitness routines during pregnancy, and some have come under fire for it on social media.
But recently, a study found strong evidence suggesting that exercise during pregnancy is good (and, more important, safe) for both the mother and baby, according to researchers at Camilo José Cela University in Spain.
In the past, expecting mothers were told that eating more and refraining from exercise are beneficial for the baby, but those misled pieces of advice may actually lead to complications, according to the study, which was published in the Journal of American Medicine Association. Leading a sedentary or unhealthy lifestyle during pregnancy can lead to issues like pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, lower back pain, and incontinence. Staying active leading up to and during pregnancy can help with those problems. It also helps prevent excessive weight gain, which is a key factor in the baby’s risk of becoming obese later on.
“The exercises recommended in our study should be performed not only by healthy pregnant women, but also by sedentary females prior to pregnancy since this is a good time to adopt a physically active lifestyle,” María Perales, the lead study author and a researcher from the university’s department of Physical Activity and Sports Science. “This also goes for women at risk of being overweight or obese, or at risk of gestational diabetes and chronic hypertension.”
Exercising poses no risk to the fetus or mother, as long as the exercise sessions are kept at a moderate intensity. So it’s not a great time to hit a deadlift personal record or try a new HIIT routine. The researchers recommend that pregnant women combine strength training and aerobic exercise for 45 to 65 minutes three or four days each week, but things like distance running, intense weight training, jumping movements, impact exercises, exercises that put you at risk of falling, and exercises that require lying back-down also aren’t recommended.
That being said, pregnancy definitely doesn’t have to mean leaving the gym behind. As long as you’re careful and avoid hitting your max heart rate or doing risky moves, exercising during pregnancy is safe and beneficial.