Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Exercising While Pregnant

One year ago TODAY I was due with my baby boy (I wouldn't get to meet him for another NINE days!) and ran SPRINTS. The day before I taught a grueling hour and a half strength training interval workout class. 

There must be something in the water, in the past month I have had so many girls in my classes tell me they are pregnant, want to know if it's "okay" for them to work out and I try to tell them YES, it's wonderful and that I worked out the ENTIRE time. I am talking I exercised hard at least five times a week - none of this "walking" crap. (Tangent: I HATE when people say they exercise and I ask them what they do and they say "I walk"... MOST of the time I bite my tongue, but if asked I will tell them that walking isn't exercise. To get any real benefit you've GOT to get your heart rate up and be miserable just for a little while.)

Anyway, these girls either don't care or don't believe me that it is great for them AND baby, because after a month or so 80% will drop out.
(Side note: 1 out of 5 actually have some issue, like super high blood pressure or end up being high risk and their doctor advises them not to work out. In that case, obviously, the doctor knows best.) 

IF FACT, this article says that "What appears to be more threatening to womens’ health is a sedentary lifestyle during pregnancy. According to Clapp’s studies, women who participated in little or no physical activity during their pregnancy were more likely to experience negative health problems during pregnancy and in the postpartum period." 

So for the other 4 out of 5 that have zero issues, instead of becoming a couch potato for the next nine months, I cannot urge you enough to keep working out and eating normal. 

The best thing you can do for YOU while pregnant is to keep strength training and here is why:
  1. Increases lean muscle mass.
  2. Increases your metabolism.  Muscle continues to burn calories while at rest…even up to 48 hours after a work out!
  3. Building muscle builds bone mass which fighting osteoporosis.
  4. Can improve the overall function of your body in everyday living….balance, strength, less injury, etc.
  5. Can reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  6. Makes you feel better.
  7. Makes you look better.
Besides benefitting you, it exercising is also wonderful for your baby:
  1. Increased physical health scores, immediately upon birth and lasting into adulthood
  2. Increased intelligence scores for life
  3. Increased confidence & ability to self-soothe
  4. Fewer fetal interventions
  5. Fewer complications

The way a pregnant mom moves her body now can improve her baby’s health for years to come. Dr. James F. Clapp is the worlds leading authority on the effects of exercise during pregnancy. He writes, “The newborns of women who exercise tend to be alert, are easier to care for, and do not have trouble with transition of life outside the uterus.” He goes on to say these healthier babies respond more eagerly to things in their environment, they more readily self-quiet when they are disturbed, and they need much less consolation from others. You can find the full article here (and it's worth reading!): http://www.getfitforbirth.com/happier-smarter-babies/

If you're in the middle of a pregnancy, it's probably too late to start bootcamp or a high intensity workout, but today you can grab some weights and do some squats - then go for a JOG (gasp!). 

I think we can all agree that the number one priority while pregnant is to grow a healthy baby, so try your hardest to incorporate (or keep) exercise into your daily routine for the baby's health, not just your own. Thanks for reading!


  1. Sorry but i have to comment on this entry. I think it is really sad that you, a fitness instructor and someone who should be motivating people, would post something that was so judgemental! I am overweight and not fit. I have not exercised in a long time. I have started off doing "mostly just walking," and along with dieting have lost 12lbs since the new year so far. When I walk, I am not just taking a leisurely stroll...I have been doing the treatmill at 3.2-3.5, on an incline of 1.5-2. Now, that may not sound like a lot to you as a bootcamp instructor...but believe it or not that DOES get my heart rate up, my legs burning, etc. I think its comments like the one you made...about having to bite your tongue when people tell you they walk for exercise...that keep people like me out of your classes. No one wants to be embarrased or judged for their version of working out of their capabilities. And, even if it is "just walking," its better than sitting on the couch! How about being encouraging? Why not ASK them if they are still getting their heart rate up and working hard, even if "just walking?" I just think you should be aware of how comments like that can come across to those of us who are not as in shape as you.

    1. Thank you for your comments! I appreciate all different views and I agree with you that my comments are harsh. If we are not offended by others then hopefully something within us offends us so that we will change. Today I was offended by myself for making poor food choices this weekend - this disgust with myself motivates me to make good choices this week.

      If you had researched my program at all you would have found that I go to great lengths to engage people that are overweight and just starting out on their fitness journey. I have several beginner bootcamps where we focus exclusively on low impact workouts while teaching them the basics of fitness.

      Again, thank you for your comments and for taking the time to read the post. While it was directed at pregnant women who are already working out, I did make comments related to other issues. Thank you for pointing out those statements.

    2. I think you have no reason for your apologies. WALKING isn't exercise. It's transportation. The stuff and excuses women come up with pregnant or not are unbelievably inane. I am pregnant myself. Sure I can no longer run on an incline at 7.5 mph (tried and I wanted to kill myself) but I still get my butt to the gym for something. No excuses.

      My mom is almost 60, and she can run 5 miles, lift 50lbs without blinking an eye and bend like a pretzel (she's a yoga fanatic). She works 60 hours a week and a small Asian woman. A mom's belief in health and exercise carries to her kids. Even when the kids are in the womb.

  2. You do great work Marietta!! I am glad to have someone to PUSH me and ENCOURAGE me throughout every workout I have with you!! You have aided in my decision to make health and fitness a bigger part in my life than was before!! Keep doing exactly what you are doing how you are doing it! Your classes aren't for the faint-hearted, that's for sure!! Thanks again!

    1. Thanks Carrie! I appreciate your encouragement more than you know! Keep up the hard work - it's all YOU! I just make the exercise suggestions, but you are the one that has to push through the pain to do them!