Dear Fitness Expert,
Hi. I'm planning for a baby and wondering whether to continue going to gym or stop once I get pregnant. If you suggest I continue how much time I should spend on treadmill and what speed do you recommend? Should I do other excercises or not? Thanks.
Yes, absolutely continue working out at the gym. By working out throughout your pregnancy, you will help keep muscles strong so that when it comes time to deliver, you will be strong enough to push. Research shows that women who worked out throughout their pregnancies consistently had easier deliveries, recovered more quickly, were happier and happier and had less instances of post partum depression! Women who do not work out are often very surprised by how exhausted they are during child birth, struggle to find the extra strength and are very sore/tired after the baby is born. Remember, you want to be strong and have the stamina to care for that beautiful little baby once he or she is in your arms.
So, how much should you do?
First, it is crucial that you speak to your OB/GYN and make sure your doctor gives you permission to work out. Once you have been cleared medically, continue with the kind of training you were doing before pregnancy. If, for example, you were working out on the gym for 45 minutes/3 times a week, you can continue this training throughout the pregnancy. Add light weights with high repetitions. Please take the time and money -- just once! -- to work with a personal trainer who can give you a training regiment that includes lifting weights three to four times a week with cardio training (bike/treadmill/versa climber/Stairmaster).
So, how much is too much?
You should be able to carry on a conversation -- just slightly out of breath -- while working out. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids and check your inner core temperature. Moms-to-be can't always properly measure how hot they are simply by how much they sweat. By using a rectal thermometer, you can discreetly disappear into a bathroom and check your inner core temperature. You heat index should never be more than 101 degree Celsius! Because your baby has no way to sweat and is one degree hotter than you are, be sure you do not get too hot. Again, by working with a personal trainer, you can be more confident of your training routine.
For more information on training while exercise as well as diet and breastfeeding issues, check out the book, Entering the Mother Zone: Balancing Self, Health and Family. It features dozens of Olympic athletes, celebrities, models and everyday moms who talk about working out while pregnant and getting their shape back after the baby is born. It can be obtained through Pregnancy.org.
Good luck and stick with it.
Alexandra Allred is a former member of the US Women's Bobsled team, is an accomplished martial artist, and continues to teach kickboxing while juggling her career as a full-time writer and mother of three. She has interviewed hundreds of athletes, models, actresses, trainers, doctors, and health/fitness experts as she sought to find answers to her own questions about working out while pregnant, arranging breast-feeding around a training schedule, diet when pregnant and breastfeeding, and encouraging her whole family.
Alex is the author of ten books, including Atta Girl! A Celebration of Women in Sports and Entering the Mother Zone: Balancing Self, Health & Family. We're excited to have her on board!