Mirror World

Regular physical activity can have profound benefits for parents and babies. I’m also convinced that developing a habit of activity during pregnancy (even before pregnancy is better) is another way to begin teaching your child. Kids observe and learn.

Early in pregnancy, many women experience fatigue. For some, the desire to rest is almost overwhelming. I suspect there may be a quiet message here for women: REST!!! The peak of the fatigue tends to overlap the height of the baby’s first 56 days of intense activity. Sleep is important during this period – I’m a fan of going to bed early, intimate pillow talk, and afternoon naps. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get active or go for walks at some point during the day. As the fatigue begins to decrease, regular physical activity becomes even more important.

Walk for Your Baby, for Yourself

Regular physical activity, at least during the first half of pregnancy, has been associated with both healthier babies and moms according to a study published in the June 2003 issue of Hypertension. Walking and other moderate physical activity begun during pregnancy was associated with a lower risk of preeclampsia, a pregnancy complication where mom’s blood pressure rises and blood flow to the baby decreases. The only effective treatment for preeclampsia is delivering the baby, so it results in many premature babies. In this study, the risk of developing preeclampsia was further reduced if the exercise was begun even before pregnancy. Researchers found that the pace of walking or other activity was more important than the distance covered. Those who walked at least 3 miles per hour enjoyed the best results. Among those who didn’t intentionally exercise, those who climbed 1 to 4 flights of stairs each day still had a lower risk than those who didn’t. Taking the time to exercise may seem difficult in today’s busy world. Nevertheless, our bodies and our babies will demand our time one way or the other. It is far more enjoyable to spend this time on pleasant walks now than on visits to the doctor later.

Published on: May 07, 2008
About the Author
Photo of Alan Greene MD
Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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