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Doctors Say You Should Definitely Be Doing This During Your Pregnancy

Photograph by Twenty20

Even though everybody means well, you'll get lots of advice whether you should or shouldn't exercise while pregnant. We already know the whole "eating for two" isn't really a thing and we have to be mindful of not overeating during pregnancy, but what many aren't aware of is that nearly half of pregnant women gain way more weight in nine months than the Institute of Medicine recommends. In fact, around 45 percent of moms begin their pregnancy already overweight or obese nowadays, versus 24 percent of moms in 1983. But there is something that you can do about it.

In 2015, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) updated recommendations on exercise for pregnant women. Unless a woman has major medical or obstetric complications, the ACOG said, they advise 20-30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least most days of the week. If you're not sure what moderate-intensity should look like, think of it this way: Do enough moving to keep your heart rate up, but not so much that you're out of breath. You should still be able to carry a conversation.

Despite that change in recommendation, a study published in 2016 found most women still weren't getting enough exercise, even in cases when they counted time spent walking while doing errands.

Regular exercise while pregnant is an important part of avoiding gaining too much weight because obesity during pregnancy can cause a host of issues for mom and baby. In fact, a recent study suggests there's a link between obesity during pregnancy and the rate of babies born with cerebral palsy.

The benefits of exercise during pregnancy are clear, doctors say. It can reduce the risk of high birthweight, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, C-section, urinary incontinence (aka peeing your pants) and more.

Even if you didn't exercise much before your pregnancy, doctors note it's completely safe (if you don't have any medical issues or complications) to do moderate aerobic and strength training from the time of your first prenatal visit all the way up until you're almost ready to deliver. You should avoid heavier workouts, as well as long-distance running, which can raise your body temperature or dehydrate you.

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