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Mamas-to-be have a great incentive to stay healthy, fit, and happy. After all, if you’re feeling great, chances are your baby will, too. Research points to the winning combination of cardiovascular exercise and strength training to boost maternal cardio fitness and prevent common new-mommy problems like urinary incontinence. But just how much exercise, downtime, and forward-thinking should you actually be doing to keep you and your baby healthy? Here are top fitness experts’ most important tips for boosting well-being while expecting.
Acupuncture during pregnancy can help reduce morning sickness, fatigue, cramping, emotional changes, and body aches, according to Noah Rubinstein, D.A.C.M., L.Ac., clinic director of the YinOva Center in New York City. Start in your first trimester, then take a break for a couple of months. “Start up again around Week 30, when joint aches are common. Acupuncture can make a big difference,” he says.
“Knowing your heart rate [HR] while exercising allows you to stay in a healthy training zone,” says master trainer, model, and author Nicole Chaplin (nicolechaplin.com). “In a complication- free pregnancy, your resting HR will usually elevate by 15 to 20 beats per minute and increase with each trimester as you gain additional weight.” The goal: Intensify your workouts without going overboard. Feelings of dizziness and being out of breath are signals to bring your heart rate down. Note: “There is no magic number that fits all women for a safe max heart rate. My comfortable zone was 150 to 160 bpm; I could still carry on a conversation and didn’t feel overly fatigued,” Chaplin says. “As my weight increased, my HR training intensity decreased to 130 and 140 bpm.”
WalletHub’s 2017 report on the “Best & Worst States to Have a Baby” ranked all 50 states based on 20 factors, including health care accessibility, family friendliness, and delivery cost. If you’re in one of the three worst states, you may just need to blow off some steam while training—or by getting a massage!—to make up for eye-popping hospital bills.
3 Best: Vermont, Minnesota, New Hampshire
3 Worst: Mississippi, Louisiana, Nevada
Research from Clinical Medicine Insights: Women’s Health shows that exercise during pregnancy can:
1. Increase chances of full-term delivery
2. Normalize birth weight
3. Decrease risk of mother and child chronic disease throughout childhood