Running for two is good for pregnancy

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When you are pregnant you expect people to give you their opinions on what you should eat, but writer Jenni Harvey said she was surprised at all the exercise advice she was given.

“Suddenly, everyone from complete strangers through to friends, well-meaning relatives and medical professionals has an opinion on what you eat, what you drink, how and where you plan to give birth, if you plan to breastfeed and your choice of baby name. For a well-balanced, confident woman, it would be galling enough to deal with. But when you’re feeling heavy, tired and full of pregnancy hormones, it’s all the more infuriating.

“As someone who worked out regularly, it didn’t occur to me to stop when I saw the second pink line appear on the pregnancy test. But I did find that it was difficult to keep explaining to people that no, running, weights and cardio classes can’t harm my baby and – on the contrary – it could be beneficial.”

As a spokesman for pregnancy exercise experts Fittamamma said: “Pregnancy is the perfect time to make healthy lifestyle choices. It’s not just about being fit yourself, it’s about staying fit for your baby too.

“Active mums are more likely to raise active kids – and research has shown that babies born to mums who exercise are likely to be less chubby, have improved vascular function and learn faster too.”

According to guidance released from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in July 2010, moderate to high-intensity physical activity will not harm a pregnant woman or her unborn child, and at least 30 minutes per day of moderate intensity activity is recommended. NICE also says that recreational exercise such as swimming or brisk walking is safe and beneficial, although the aim should be to stay fit, rather than to reach peak fitness.

“Those women who exercised regularly before pregnancy – like me – should therefore be able to continue without any adverse effects,” Jenny said.

Where women have not exercised routinely, however, the guidance is that they should begin with no more than 15 minutes of continuous exercise, three times per week, increasing gradually to daily 30-minute sessions. Advice from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is very similar, stating that all women should be encouraged to participate in aerobic and strength-conditioning exercise during their pregnancy. My advice to other pregnant women? Don’t hide behind your baby bump instead, make a New Year resolution to get outdoors and enjoy exercise – while you still have the time…

KEY ADVICE FOR PREGNANCY EXERCISE

Always warm up before exercising, and cool down afterwards

Try to keep active on a daily basis: half an hour of walking each day can be enough, but if you can’t manage that, any amount is better than nothing.

Avoid any strenuous exercise in hot weather

Drink plenty of water and other fluids

If you go to exercise classes, make sure your teacher is properly qualified, and knows that you’re pregnant.

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