Wednesday, November 7, 2007

An Inspiration or Just Plain Crazy?

It seems to be everywhere I look lately, NYTimes, Women's Health Magazine, People and the tabloids... they all feature "Body After Baby!" spreads. Pictures and stories of women who exercised their hearts out during their pregnancies and jumped right back on it afterwards. The Times featured Paula Radcliffe who was out running the day before she gave birth to her daughter, and then returned to running 12 days after delivery. Women's Health featured Dara Torres who was back at the gym to prepare for a swim meet just a week and a half after delivery of her first child.

Even doctors are publishing on the topic lately. The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada just updated its latest guidelines to say that failure to exercise during pregnancy may be associated with some risks. Dr. Gregory A. L. Davies, one of the principal authors says, "We're stressing the message that if you're not exercising, you need to start, and that message has never been said before. We point out in our guidelines that we're concerned that there is a small but growing amount of evidence that if you don't exercise in pregnancy, you're not helping yourself".

Sure serious athletes bounce back, and so do celebrities with personal trainers and chefs, but what about the rest of us? What should the average American woman aim for?

Renee Jeffreys, MSc, co-author of Fit to Deliver: An Innovative Prenatal and Postpartum Fitness Program says,“With their physician’s clearance, all pregnant women should participate in at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on all or most of the days of the week, even if you are fairly new to exercise,”. This advice is echoed all over the internet. 30 minutes, most days. The most recommended exercises are walking, swimming and prenatal yoga. For resources on what is ok and what to avoid, check out FitPregnancy.com, the SOCG's guidelines, and The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

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