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Planning for a Fit Pregnancy

If you are in the early stages of pregnancy-or thinking about getting pregnant-your life is probably consumed with planning for the big event: financial and job considerations, the baby's room and the delivery itself. But have you thought about planning your fitness level during pregnancy? Exercise during pregnancy can be one of the best things you can do for yourself during this time-but only with careful planning and consultation with your doctor.

"The benefits of regular exercise during pregnancy can be tremendous," says Carlton Pearse, MD, chief of Obstetrics/Gynecology at St. Luke's Hospital. "However, in order to reap these benefits, you should ideally start an exercise program before you are pregnant."

Dr. Pearse recommends that if you are already pregnant, talk to your physician about starting an exercise program as soon as possible. Many women wait to begin a fitness program until their last trimester when they start childbirth classes. Although some light exercise such as walking can be beneficial during this time, your body is undergoing many other physical and hormonal changes and beginning a program late in pregnancy can be difficult on your body. Besides, why not feel good throughout the entire nine months?

Some of the benefits of regular exercise during pregnancy include:
Choose exercises that work the major muscle groups that pregnancy strains most-the abdominals, back and legs. Some good forms of exercise during pregnancy include: walking, water aerobics, light weight lifting, non-aerobic sports and yoga. If you exercise regularly before pregnancy and are in good health, your normal routine will be safe to continue during pregnancy as well. Many women jog and take step aerobics throughout their pregnancy.

Dr. Pearse recommends planning your fitness schedule with a few cautions in mind:
Learn more about fitness during pregnancy and join other mothers-to-be in St. Luke's Hospital's Mommies in Motion or Yoga classes, which are geared to help expectant mothers build strength, flexibility and overall health. For registration or information about these classes, call St. Luke's Special Delivery Suites at 314-205-6906.