Are There Risks to Working Out During Pregnancy?

Some research shows that standing for a long time or lifting heavy objects is associated with pregnancy complications (such as preterm birth), but exercise is more of a protective factor for women during pregnancy. If you’re in good health with no pregnancy complications, the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) approves a “regular, moderate intensity” exercise program for all fitness levels, even for previously inactive women.

weights, weight lifting, exercise, exercise and pregnancy, fit and healthy pregnancyYou can continue activity as long as your pregnancy stays healthy and you feel good doing it, but it’s important to regularly discuss the type and intensity of your workouts with your health care provider. Be willing to make adjustments in response to changes in how you feel over time.

Despite the misperception that exercise during pregnancy is risky for women and their babies, studies consistently show that those who work out when they’re expecting tend to have better health outcomes during pregnancy and delivery.

So are there any cautions besides not pushing yourself too far?

Anecdotal evidence suggests that women already at risk for preterm labor might trigger labor with exercise, but those moms didn’t experience the healthy, typical pregnancy that we’re primarily focused on here. Exercise does not increase your risk for preterm labor, and additional research finds that women who are considered “heavy” exercisers actually show lower rates of preterm birth than do women who exercise less often or with lower intensity. After 37 weeks, active women deliver 6 days earlier, on average, but these deliveries are not considered preterm.

More intense exercise is associated with an increase in blood glucose in pregnant women, but there isn’t a known impact on insulin level. It’s thought that the glucose is produced in response to the need for it as a result of intense exercise, so there isn’t likely to be a surplus that would cause a risk to you.

runner, woman running, running and pregnancy, working out and pregnancy, fit and healthy pregnancyExercising during pregnancy does seem to make a difference, with the best outcomes reported for women who maintain a consistent workout practice from early pregnancy through the third trimester, even if they adjust the intensity and type of exercise as they near delivery.

For example, overall discomfort in late pregnancy appears to be lower in women who exercise more during the first trimester, and researchers have found that women with a history of vigorous workouts who continue to be highly active in pregnancy have lower resting heart rates and a better maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) throughout pregnancy than do moderate and nonexercisers.

There’s a slight increase in VO2max postpartum even among recreational athletes if they maintain just a moderate level of exercise throughout pregnancy. However, while you can maintain (or even improve) your VO2max, your anaerobic working capacity may be reduced in late pregnancy even if you’ve stayed active.

Still, the takeaway message is that maintaining a consistent, moderate fitness program throughout pregnancy is good for you, your athletic body, and your baby’s healthy development.

Fit and Healthy Pregnancy by Dr. Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MDFit & Healthy Pregnancy is a friendly, comprehensive guide to exercising during pregnancy from athlete-moms Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MD.

Find Fit and Healthy Pregnancy in your local bookstore or online and learn safe ways to exercise for two!

Please consult your doctor before embarking on an exercise program during pregnancy.

How to Keep Cycling Safely and Comfortably during Pregnancy

bike, bicycle, cycling, cycling during pregnancy, cycling and pregnancy, pregnancy, fit and healthy pregnancyPregnant? Don’t throw your bike into that shed yet! Just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you have to stop being active, and it doesn’t mean you have quit cycling either.

If you’re an active woman or even an athlete, there’s no reason you can’t keep your active lifestyle as long as you aren’t experiencing any complications and you’re listening to your body’s cues to know when to stop. However, if you haven’t been active prior to getting pregnant, now may not be the time to start a rigorous workout routine. (If you want more advice on starting a fitness routine during pregnancy, check one of our posts on the topic.)

A Safe Way to Cycle While Pregnant

So how do you safely and comfortably keep cycling during pregnancy? One way is to do what Olympian and triathlete Sarah Haskins did: she rode on a CompuTrainer.

Like many women, Hadownhill, fast hill descent, descent, cycling, mountain biking, cycling during pregnancy, fit and healthy pregnancyskins was nervous about cycling on the roads when she found out she was pregnant because she feared falling and harming her baby. This is a legitimate concern, and precautions should be taken to prevent falling and crashes like avoiding group rides, pacelines, fast hill descents, racing, gravelly and slippery roads, and busy intersections.

A Shift in Gravity

However, it is safe to ride your bike for the first 12 weeks of your pregnancy because your pelvis encases and protects the uterus during the first trimester. During your second trimester is when your balance and center of gravity begin to change, and your pelvis no longer protects your uterus. And when that third trimester rolls around, your balance will only have gotten worse, so that may be the time to switch to a stationary bike or an indoor bike that’s on a trainer, if you haven’t done so already.

Although there are no hard-and-fast obstetric rules that prohibit a woman from riding when she’s expecting as long as it’s a normal pregnancy without complications, you and your doctor will have to decide what’s right for you. And keep in mind that deciding not to ride on the roads doesn’t make you any less of an athlete.

Regardless of your choice though, you shouldn’t start an outdoor cycling routine after the first trimester because your balance is now comprised, and getting on (and staying on) a bike could be difficult if you haven’t been doing it regularly.

Monitor Your Efforts and Make Room for Comfort

If you continue cycling, remember to keep your efforts at 14-16 RPE after the first trimester, with recovery intervals at 10-12 RPE. And don’t forget to monitor your core body temperature when cycling or doing workouts of any during your pregnancy. You might even want to carry a basal thermometer with you to make sure your core body temperature is in the safe zone.

saddle, bike saddle, cycling, cycling and pregnancy, fit and healthy pregnancy You’ll also want to adjust your bike fit to your changes in posture and weight distribution for a more comfortable ride. A wider saddle might also lend more comfort, and getting a hydration pack that you wear on your back will keep you from shifting your balance to reach for your water bottle.

The Upside of Staying Stationary

Spinning, Stationary bikes, CompuTrainers, and even recumbent bikes are safe alternatives for those looking for peace of mind and assurance that they won’t fall. You can even find a CompuTrainer center where you bring your own bike and a coach sets you up at a designated wattage for your individual level. Be sure to tell the coach that you’re pregnant!

A CompuTrainer center also lets you ride on a stable bike in a temperature-regulated space, with a skilled cycling expert to adjust your level of difficulty and bike fit. It’s a great option for athletes of all levels—novice to competitive—and lets you ride with stability while watching a simulated outdoor course.

Fit and Healthy Pregnancy by Dr. Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MDFit & Healthy Pregnancy is a friendly, comprehensive guide to exercising during pregnancy from athlete-moms Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MD.

Find Fit and Healthy Pregnancy in your local bookstore or online and learn safe ways to exercise for two!

Please consult your doctor before embarking on an exercise program during pregnancy.

How Exercise Affects Fertility

cycling, cyclist, endurance sports, exercise, exercise and fertility, fit pregnancy, fit and healthy pregnancyOf course you won’t exercise while pregnant until you first get pregnant! Athletic women can have particular concerns about conception and fertility because the reproductive system responds to how much energy we expend by working out. We’re not talking about how you get through a triathlon during your period or the nuances of core work with severe menstrual cramps. And we’re not talking about the tricky business of using up so much energy at the gym that you have zero interest in sex.

Yes, conception is closely tied to energy, to the extent that your body needs enough nutrition, particularly fat, to compensate for your activity and stay in a healthy zone for conceiving and supporting the growth of a fetus. But while exercise intensity and volume are often held responsible for how easily an athletic woman conceives, there are several factors in menstrual regularity that can play out in fertility issues:

  • Balance of energy use and fuel intake (calories)
  • Body weight and composition
  • Disordered eating habits
  • Psychological stress
  • Individual variation among women

swimmer, swimming, female swimmer, female athlete, exercise, exercise and fertility, pregnancy, healthy pregnancy, fit and healthy pregnancyWhen you have missing, infrequent, or irregular periods as a result of any of those factors, you might experience trouble conceiving, which is known as ovulatory infertility. It’s like trying to make an omelet without eggs. Although working out is something of a scapegoat, exercise at high levels of training volume, particularly in endurance sports, can change the frequency and regularity of menstruation, making it hard to predict your ovulation. For example, one study of distance runners found that an increase in mileage from 30 to 42 miles per week was associated with the rate of amenorrhea (missing a period for at least 3 months in a row) going from 2 percent to 31 percent.

The thing is, statistics like this can create the false belief that exercise causes ovulatory infertility, which isn’t the case. Amenorrhea associated with exercise has to do with food intake and energy use and maintaining the balance between them. Exercise simply affects that balance, which wobbles when a woman isn’t getting enough calories from fat to support her energy use. The result is a disruption in the hormones that direct her ability to conceive and may change her body mass index (BMI), which influences menstrual regularity.

For more on BMI and getting pregnant, check out our other articles: Exercise BMI and Getting Pregnant and More on Exercise, BMI, and Getting Pregnant.

Fit and Healthy Pregnancy by Dr. Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MDFit & Healthy Pregnancy is a friendly, comprehensive guide to exercising during pregnancy from athlete-moms Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MD.

Find Fit and Healthy Pregnancy in your local bookstore or online and learn safe ways to exercise for two!

Please consult your doctor before embarking on an exercise program during pregnancy.

Why Prenatal Yoga Is So Popular with Celebrities

red carpetDrew Barrymore, Gisele Bundchen, Jessica Alba, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mila Kunis. Why did I just list off a bunch of female celebrities? Well they’re not just female celebrities; they’re all moms or soon-to-be moms. What’s my point? Well these women have something else in common too: they’ve all engaged in prenatal yoga—an exercise the new book Fit and Healthy Pregnancy recommends.

Just last week, popular mommy-to-be, Mila Kunis, was spotted coming out of a prenatal yoga class on her birthday. So what’s so great about prenatal yoga that so many women, celebrity or otherwise, have turned to it?

First off, exercise in general during pregnancy is as important as your pregnancy multivitamin. (You can read about the importance of exercise during pregnancy in one of our other posts such as: “The Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy” and “Is Exercise Good for Babies?”) But yoga might be of particular benefit to expectant mothers for a number of reasons, especially during the second trimester.

The second trimester is the best trimester for working our. For many women, it can feel like the midpoint in a race when all systems are go and you’re fired up with zest and strength. In fact, women often experience the expectant woman’s equivalent of a runner’s high. So this is the time to take advantage of your energy and positive outlook and to empower your health with activity oriented toward strength and wellness for you and your baby.

Not only is this an energized time during pregnancy, it’s also a time when women begin experiencing more physical discomforts such as lower back pain, postural changes, abdominal muscle separation, and leg cramps. So what can you do to combat those unfortunate changes or least make your situation more comfortable?prenatal yoga, yoga, celebrities and yoga

Do what the celebs do: prenatal yoga. Strength work during pregnancy will help your back before, during, and after delivery, making labor easier, (as many celebrity moms have reported). Plank and side-plank yoga poses will fortify your core and back and help prevent pain from motor weakness, muscle contraction, and posture changes.

You can also develop excellent ab and back strength with standing core exercises that can be performed comfortably into the seventh month of pregnancy. Just remember to avoid lying flat on your back when exercising during the second trimester because the weight of the uterus on the big vessels that bring blood back to the heart will decrease blood flow.

Remember to always listen to your body when working out during pregnancy, whether you’re doing yoga, cycling, swimming or any other exercise. If you’re looking for an example of a good yoga pose to test out, follow the training tip below, one of many detailed in Fit and Healthy Pregnancy:

To strengthen those back and abdominal muscles, do plank poses every day. Start with two sets of 20 to 30 seconds each for the basic plank and side plank on both sides, working your way to 2 to 3 sets of 60 to 90 seconds for reach position. Keep your spine as straight as possible; resist the urge to push your rear out and back. If necessary, make the planks easier to adapt to your changing weight by lying on your side and keeping your lower knee on the mat, with that leg bent behind you. To make a basic plank easier, put your weight on your knees instead of your feet or open your legs wider and hold yourself up on your palms instead of your forearms.

Fit and Healthy Pregnancy by Dr. Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MDFit & Healthy Pregnancy is a friendly, comprehensive guide to exercising during pregnancy from athlete-moms Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MD.

Find Fit and Healthy Pregnancy in your local bookstore or online and learn safe ways to exercise for two!

Please consult your doctor before embarking on an exercise program during pregnancy.

The Benefits of Exercising During Pregnancy

running, exercise, fitness, fit and healthy pregnancyDespite the misperception that exercise during pregnancy is risky for women and their babies, studies consistently show that those who work out when they’re expecting tend to have better health outcomes during pregnancy and delivery.

Here are some of the benefits of exercising while you are pregnant:

  • yoga, exercise, fitness, woman doing yoga, exercise and pregnancy, fit and healthy pregnancyBetter cardiovascular function
  • Less weight gain
  • Lower musculoskeletal discomfort, especially in the lower back
  • Better posture
  • Fewer muscle cramps
  • Better mood and self-esteem
  • Lower risk of gestational diabetes
  • Fewer instances of hypertension
  • Better circulation throughout the body and to the placenta
  • Less constipation and bloating
  • Improved muscle support for the pelvis
  • Lower rates of incontinence
  • Stronger muscles, bones, and ligaments for labor and delivery
  • More energy and better sleep

Fit and Healthy Pregnancy by Dr. Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MDFit & Healthy Pregnancy is a friendly, comprehensive guide to exercising during pregnancy from athlete-moms Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MD.

Find Fit and Healthy Pregnancy in your local bookstore or online and learn safe ways to exercise for two!

Please consult your doctor before embarking on an exercise program during pregnancy.

Cheerios, the Boston Marathon, and the Seeds of a New Book for Active Women

cheerios, babies, baby food, moms, motherhood, pregnancy, fit and healthy pregnancyOur book Fit & Healthy Pregnancy has been a long time coming, both for me and for the topic of exercise, pregnancy, and new motherhood.

In 2006, my boy planted the seeds for this book with the Cheerios he threw in my hair while we watched the Boston Marathon on TV. As I made lunch for him in his high chair, I watched athletes whose afternoon was looking pretty different from mine and welled up with tears as the exhausted people ran across the yellow line on Boylston Street.

marathon, marathon runner, athletes, athlete momsI wanted to be one of those people. I decided the marathon was within reach, since I knew how to run and my baby already had me exhausted anyway. And with a Cheerio to my temple, the seed was planted. My love of marathoning became a love of coaching, which was the perfect venue for merging my doctorate in women’s psychology with my dedication to sport. Fit & Healthy Pregnancy is the result of that extensive work with other women and my experience as an athlete mom.

I’ve met many women who find strength and sustenance in sport and fitness, and this book is meant to underscore that they don’t need to give up athletics when they decide to grow a family. The need for activity translates into a habit of the most awesome self-medication, whether it’s running, biking, swimming, yoga, or some other cathartic activity involving your body—and pregnancy doesn’t mean you must quit that healthy vice. Mother’s Little Helper isn’t a pill; it’s a good sweat.

This website is a guide to helping you find that zone of wellness as your body performs its ultimate feat of stamina and endurance: creating, growing, and delivering a baby.

Fit and Healthy Pregnancy by Dr. Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MDFit & Healthy Pregnancy is a friendly, comprehensive guide to exercising during pregnancy from athlete-moms Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MD.

Find Fit and Healthy Pregnancy in your local bookstore or online and learn safe ways to exercise for two!

Please consult your doctor before embarking on an exercise program during pregnancy.

An Introduction to Your Fit Pregnancy

London Olympics, Olympians, Athletes, Female Athletes, Female Olympians, Pregnant OlympiansThe 2012 London Olympics seemed like a baby shower for fit pregnancy, a watershed for sport and motherhood. At the 2008 Beijing Games, swimmer Dara Torres had opened a door for women in sports to be highly visible moms, and the London Olympics picked up where she left off by placing mothers front and center. In no other Olympic broadcast had athlete moms been more celebrated, or perhaps more decorated. Beach volleyball star Kerri Walsh-Jennings took home her third consecutive gold medal, having become a mother of two in the years between the Athens (2004) and London Games. The 2012 medal favorites in the women’s high jump included three moms of toddlers. Several of the most promising marathoners were also moms, including Kara Goucher of the United States and Romanian Constantina Dita, a 42-year-old mother of a teenager. No longer just waving flags tearfully from the stands, mothers were high-profile in the action and on the podium.

London was also a groundbreaking Olympics for expectant women. In no prior Games had a competitor participated at 36 weeks pregnant. Malaysian riflewoman Nur Suryani Mohammed competed in the 10-meter air-rife event, saying later in a press interview that she talked to her baby daughter in utero every morning, asking permission to shoot without being kicked. “If the baby kicks, I have to breathe easy and let her calm down before shooting,” said Nur. Now, that’s good advice for moms everywhere.

As a Muslim woman competing in Olympic air rife while 8 months pregnant, Nur might have broken through several layers of ground in elite sports. At the same time, she represents the modern age in women’s athletics. Today, many women are more likely to register for baby joggers and bike chariots than rock- ing chairs, and they’re inclined to stay fit and active throughout pregnancy. As Nur put it, “I am the mother. I know what I can do. I am stubborn.”

healthy body and mind, mind and body, wellnessAnd yet many of us don’t know how much we can do, and we encounter raised eyebrows and voices of concern that Nur and other expectant mothers also face as they strive for a fit pregnancy. This book offers answers to clear up that confusion, and it will help empower you for a healthy, active 40 weeks and beyond. It covers your mind-body wellness as well as the health and safety of the baby you’re growing. And by presenting the most current knowledge on pregnancy and exercise and the advice and experiences of countless expectant women with active lifestyles, this book will equip you to navigate what can seem like the ultimate 9-month endurance sport.

At the same time that you’ll learn about fitness that is safe and healthy for women with pregnancies that are progressing normally, reading this book will help you focus on yourself. The central tenet of a fit pregnancy is that you value your own experience and heed your individual body’s cues in order to be strong, active, and healthy. This is your body and your pregnancy—no one else’s. You’re creating an ecosystem of flesh and blood, and your fit pregnancy won’t look precisely like that of any other woman. This book reminds you to trust your body and focus on a balance between mental and physical health in order to be fit and healthy while you grow a baby.

Designed for veteran and recreational athletes as well as general fitness enthusiasts, the book digs deeply into each trimester, including the often neglected “fourth trimester” of postpartum adjustment. Each of these chapters covers the essential information you need to cultivate a healthy pregnancy and start toward motherhood.

You’ll be able to read about such key topics as:

  • What’s happening to my body?
  • How do I fuel each trimester?
  • How do I exercise safely throughout my pregnancy?
  • How do I keep a fit mind during pregnancy?

Swimmer, Swimming, Female Swimmer, Woman Swimming, Female athlete, fitness, fit and healthy, Fit and Healthy PregnancyYou’ll learn about fitness options for each phase of pregnancy, focusing on running, biking, swimming, stretching, and strength training. Chapters feature simple and efficient exercises to enhance your fitness routine as well as advice on building mental strength and finding calm during this period of change, both for yourself and for your relationships.

A distinctive feature of this book is the insight offered by the many moms who have been there before you as well as the expert contributions of coaches, trainers, midwives, and doctors. What’s more, the book is rooted in the medical expertise of athlete OB-GYN Dr. Rachel Kramer, who offers current, balanced advice to guide you through a safe and rewarding pregnancy experience that honors your need for fitness and your care for your growing baby. You’ll find her expert contributions highlighted throughout the book. Simply put, this book offers you the best of all sources: sound medical advice, a mind-body fitness guide, and motivation from other women who have walked—or worked out—in your shoes.

Fit and Healthy Pregnancy by Dr. Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MDFind Fit and Healthy Pregnancy in your local bookstore or online:

 

 

Please consult your doctor before embarking on an exercise program during pregnancy.

You Don’t Have to be Alysia Montano to Keep a Fit Mind & Body in Your 3rd Trimester

You know the stories about those women who ran marathons on their due dates? Kind of like Alysia Montano, the Olympian who was 8 months pregnant and ran the 800M last month. While it is an impressive feat and was probably safe for those athletes whose bodies were used to this kind of activity, know that that doesn’t have to be you.

Don’t Make Comparisons

path, journey, pregnancy journey, fit and healthy pregnancyStaying in touch with your Fit Self can be a challenge during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester when you feel large and unwieldy. It may feel as if you’re waddling through each day. But it’s important not to compare yourself to anyone else. Alysia Montano had her own pregnancy story. Her goal was to just go out there and enjoy the race and hopefully not get lapped.

But that’s not your story. Your pregnancy journey is your own and changes each day. Do what makes you feel whole and don’t worry about anyone else. Reject the idea that you have to be fit with someone else’s mind and body.

Keeping a Fit Mind

To keep your sanity, strive for balance between obligations, such as work, and aspects of life that help you feel good, such as time outside. Focus on the things that you can control, such as the ways you can nourish your mind and body, and let go of the things you can’t, such as other people’s reactions to your fitness activities or how you look.

baking, dough, sanityTurn to those activities that you love like baking or wandering around farmers market in those last months when your stress is overwhelming and you need some you time. Simple things like these will be positive diversions from the physical discomfort you’re feeling and the baby-centric conversations. They’ll also help nourish your independent identity.

Third Trimester Exercise

And if you have been exercising regularly during your pregnancy and continue to feel up for it during your third trimester, that’s completely safe as long as you’re listening to your body and fueling yourself properly. Another great benefit of fitness is stress release, which many women could use the closer delivery gets.

Whether you’re like Alysia Montano or not and want to continue running during your third trimester, here are some guidelines for you:

  • As long as you’re comfortable, hydrated, and careful not to overexert, you can feel confident going for a run.
  • Stay comfortable and wear a loose, moisture-wicking shirt to reduce chafing.
  • Carry a water bottle with you to prevent overheating and dehydration.
  • Electrolyte drinks and coconut water are great hydration go-tos.
  • Don’t start running in your seventh month if you haven’t been running during the pregnancy thus far.
  • Focus on your rate of exertion, comfort, and sense of wellness during a run rather than a specific time or number of miles.

pregnancy, third trimester, pregnant woman, healthy pregnancy, fit pregnancy, fit and healthy pregnancyIf you’re reading this in your third trimester, this is the home stretch. Whether you’ve loved pregnancy or hated it, take comfort in the fact that you’re nearly there. For those of you in the beginning stages of your pregnancy, you might find some of our earlier posts helpful like How To Start Exercising During Pregnancy or Fueling Your First Trimester.

Fit and Healthy Pregnancy by Dr. Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MDFit & Healthy Pregnancy is a friendly, comprehensive guide to exercising during pregnancy from athlete-moms Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MD.

Find Fit and Healthy Pregnancy in your local bookstore or online and learn safe ways to exercise for two!

Please consult your doctor before embarking on an exercise program during pregnancy.

Olympian Is 8 Months Pregnant and Runs the 800M

davetrendler:

Olympian Alysia Montano recently ran in an 800m race while 8 months pregnant. Running coach Jeff Horowitz offers a few thoughts and links to the story on Washington Post.

Originally posted on Jeff Horowitz Running and Triathlon Coach:

In case you missed this, Olympian Alysia Montano recently ran in an 800m race . . . while 8 months pregnant. Her goal was just to be back on the track and enjoy participating, and, as she put it, to not be the first person ever lapped in the 800.
She sets a great example with this run. The idea that pregnant women have to be sedentary is a myth. Unless there are complications, a woman experiencing a normal, healthy pregnancy can maintain an active exercise regimen. The key work here, though, is “maintain”; this would not be the time to start up a new, more aggressive training schedule or routine. Also, it’s important to watch for signs of overheating.
For more on Alysia’s run, go to http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/early-lead/wp/2014/06/27/olympian-alysia-montano-runs-an-800-meter-race-while-34-weeks-pregnant/

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More on Exercise, BMI, and Getting Pregnant

Pregnancy, Healthy Pregnancy, Fit & Healthy PregnancyWith many women having babies later in life, fertility struggles aren’t uncommon, and many women who are frustrated and emotionally spent from trying to conceive say they cut back on exercise as a way to feel some control over a situation that even doctors have trouble explaining with certainty. This is a normal coping response to a stressful and difficult experience. Ultimately, though, fitness activity is your ally because it relieves stress and helps you maintain a healthy body that can support the growth of a baby. When you think about your workouts, strive to find the mental space between exercise as a stress-buster and workouts that cause anxiety about your fertility. Whether you’re a recreational athlete or an elite competitor, exercise jeopardizes your fertility only when it is the reason that your body doesn’t have enough fat to ovulate and, therefore, conceive.

Most women likely will not have fertility trouble that is exercise-induced. Fertility might become more difficult for those who train at the elite level because their bodies have so little fat, but you can safely maintain a moderate to vigorous fitness program of 4 to 7 days of cardio and strength building exercise per week without concern about conceiving as long as you get enough calories from fat to menstruate. Such a program includes 30- to 45-minute workouts and longer sessions of up to a few hours for endurance athletes. It’s all about fueling to replenish what is burned. However, as mentioned previously, new exercisers should always begin a program gradually, particularly if they’re trying to conceive. As you think about planning your 9-month ultra-event, try to establish a realistic sense of your fitness habits and physical baseline, whether you’re concerned about fertility or looking to determine your pregnancy fitness goals. Print out a calendar and write down your physical activity for the month before conception to get a real idea of your workout baseline.Biking, Bike Riding, Woman Bike Riding, Fitness, Healthy, Exercise, Cardio, Fit & Healthy Pregnancy

Establishing your BMI is another good frame of reference for understanding your fitness and health baseline, but keep in mind that the formula and results rely on your height and weight without taking into account your aerobic capacity, genetics, bone mass, or ratio of fat to muscle. Nonetheless, your bodyfat percentage is important information to consider. A healthy woman is 20 to 25 percent body fat, and a specialist can give you a reliable measurement and analysis of your particular case using skinfold calipers, which might look like a torture device but are actually more like tongs.

Your individual body and fertility will probably have different needs and patterns for metabolizing food depending on the type and intensity of your different activities. If you’d like a specific dietary plan for your fertility and fitness routine, get the input of a nutritionist, fertility expert, and/or exercise specialist who can address the specifics of your lifestyle and health. When it comes to your cycle and fertility, individual variation is as important as the energy intake–use relationship.

See the first article on this topic: Exercise, BMI, and Getting Pregnant

Fit and Healthy Pregnancy by Dr. Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MDFit & Healthy Pregnancy is a friendly, comprehensive guide to exercising during pregnancy from athlete-moms Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MD.

Find Fit and Healthy Pregnancy in your local bookstore or online and learn safe ways to exercise for two!

Please consult your doctor before embarking on an exercise program during pregnancy.