From Jazzercise, Inc.
(CARLSBAD, CA) -- While experts continue to stress the benefits of exercise for women before, during and after pregnancy, research indicates that their babies benefit, too. A five-year study at Case Western Reserve University followed the progress of children whose mothers exercised regularly during pregnancy and found them to score significantly higheron tests of general intelligence and oral language skills.
Another study, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, compared the behavior of babies of exercising mothers to infants whose mothers had not exercised during pregnancy. Seven behavior tests were administered five days after birth. The babies born to exercisers scored significantly higher in orientation behavior toward stimuli in their environment. They also scored significantly higher in their ability to quiet themselves after applied stimuli.
"Luckily," says Judi Sheppard Missett, founder and CEO of Jazzercise, "exercising throughout pregnancy is widely accepted and encouraged today." Nevertheless, here are some important guidelines to follow:
Discuss your decision to exercise with your obstetrician. The duration, intensity and frequency of your workouts should not exceed what they were prior to pregnancy. If you were not physically active prior to pregnancy, it's not too late to begin a program, but start with moderate activities, such as walking, low-impact dance exercise classes or gentle water aerobics.
Monitor your heart rate and fatigue. Never exercise to the point of exhaustion, as aerobic exercise affects the amount of blood and oxygen available to the fetus.
The hormonal changes that accompany pregnancy trigger a softening of the ligaments and tendons. Take care not to overstrain your joints during flexibility exercises. Keep your stretches conservative and avoid stretching too deep or pressing too far into your stretches.
You can practice with the following stretch for the adductor muscles that run along the inside of the thigh. Pregnant exercisers may find the standing position used during this stretch to be more comfortable than seated exercises, which target the same muscles. You may also find it helpful to rest the extended foot on a step, but placing your foot on the floor is equally effective. Stand with your knees and toes facing forward and extend one leg straight to your side. Bend your supporting leg and allow your hips to release behind you. Your weight should be in your heel and your chest should be lifted tall as you lean forward. Place your hands on your thighs for support. Hold for at least 10 to 20 seconds, breathing naturally, then reverse the stretch for the other leg. Repeat two to three times as desired.
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