You may have seen the headline, “Exercise May Not Limit Pregnancy Weight Gain.” The story comes from a new Brazilian study of obese women who joined a study group half way through their pregnancy (around 3 – 5 months). The researchers split the women into two groups. Half went to weekly exercise classes and got counseled on nutrition, weight gain and home exercises or walking they could do daily. The other women received standard prenatal care advice, but no extra information on exercise.
Regardless of whether they were assigned to do group and at-home exercise, about half of the women gained more weight than recommended upper limits. Read the full story on the study here.
What do these findings mean?
1- Exercise during pregnancy isn’t about weight loss, it’s about establishing good habits.
Pregnancy is the perfect time to build habits that will last for the rest of your life. As the study states, pregnancy is an “ideal time for behavioral modification for the benefit of both mother and the baby.” Becoming pregnant can inspire women to make important, healthy changes to their lifestyle that can become a model for their children. At Oh Baby! Fitness, we’ve watched lots of women start exercising for the first time during their pregnancy. A healthy habit is created, and after pregnancy, women continue to exercise and feel great and the weight truly starts to come off.
2- Being in shape before getting pregnant matters
Weight is harder to control during pregnancy. Starting your pregnancy at a healthy weight is a great way to lower your risk for c-section and having a large baby. If you start your pregnancy obese or overweight, start an exercise program as soon as your doctor advises. As the article says, “starting an exercise or diet program mid-way through pregnancy probably isn’t as useful as intervening very early in pregnancy — or better yet, before.”
3- Doctors recommend 30 minutes of exercise a day for ALL pregnant women, regardless of weight
Even obese and overweight pregnant women are advised to exercise for 30 minutes a day on most if not all days of the week. These 30 minutes can help you deal with pregnancy complaints (everything from swelling to heart burn to back pain to insomnia can be helped by exercise) while also preparing you for labor and being a new mom. Take the time during your pregnancy to create the healthy habit of exercise and activity that you can pass on to your child.