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On the treadmill for two: the truth about prenatal exercise

There are some widely held notions about exercise during pregnancy that are simply not true anymore.
There are some widely held notions about exercise during pregnancy that are simply not true anymore.

When it comes to pregnancy, it seems as though the only mantra many women adopt is “Who cares? I'm eating for two!” However, there are some blanket statements regarding prenatal fitness that many women also blindly accept without knowing that some of those things aren’t completely accurate.

Sue Fleming, Gold’s Gym Fitness Institute Fitness and Lifestyle Expert, author, trainer and creator of the Buff Fitness® workout weighs in on some of these prenatal fitness blanket statements and reveals just what’s a myth and what’s actually a fact.

Women who are in shape and exercise regularly have an easier pregnancy and easier time with labor.

  • FACT. Sue states that this concept is generally true for women who have low-risk pregnancies. She says that studies have shown those who work out regularly and strengthen the muscles that are taxed during labor have easier labors.

Your heart rate should never exceed 140 beats per minute while exercising.

  • MYTH. Sue reveals that there is no proof that 140 bpm is unsafe and although this concept was once a rigid belief in the world of prenatal fitness, it has been somewhat disregarded by many in the health and fitness industry since 2002, when the Borg Scale of Exercise became the standard. This scale measures exertion based on one’s ability or inability to talk during exercise. Sue admits that this is one of the gray areas when it comes to prenatal fitness and should ultimately be discussed by you and your doctor.

Once you’ve entered into the 2nd trimester, you should completely avoid all exercises that cause you to lie on your back.

  • PART MYTH, PART FACT. Sue reveals that this is another gray area, as it is a recommendation based on a symptomatic condition that may occur in some women due to the pressure that the uterus and baby place on the arteries involved with blood flow, causing discomfort and lightheadedness. She suggests that you ask your doctor what is best for you, but also provides a basic rule of thumb to follow: if it’s uncomfortable, and you feel symptomatic, don’t do it.

It’s important to exercise your back muscles while pregnant.

  • FACT. Sue states that the women on average gain 25%-35% of their total weight during pregnancy, and are not used to supporting that weight, nor are they used to carrying around an eight plus pound baby with them everywhere. She recommends preparing for this extra load—both during and post-pregnancy—by strengthening the back through targeted exercises such as the pelvic tilt and the pelvic lift.

Post pregnancy, you must wait 6 weeks prior to resuming exercise.

  • FACT. Sue states that this is the general rule of thumb that most doctors advise women to follow, although she recommends that if you have had no issues with your pregnancy or labor, you should begin moving right away, whether it’s walking, performing kegals, or abdominal strengthening exercises. She states that studies have proven that women get their bodies back much faster if they begin exercising after six weeks, as opposed to six months.

To find out more about Sue Fleming, visit her website where you can purchase her fitness DVD’s or books specifically targeted for expectant mothers and new moms.

For more information about Dallas-based Gold’s Gym and to find which Dallas location is nearest you, visit


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