For most of us who grew up with a mostly sedentary lifestyle, finding the motivation to get active is like trying to roll a beached whale back into the ocean; it is a monumental task and you will likely need help. The older we get, the more conditioned we become to continue doing what feels best, which usually is a whole lot of nothing.
Yes, this is nothing you haven't heard before; you need to be more active, more healthy, etc. But, what if some scientific findings made their way into your hands to convince you that pregnancy is really the most amazing time to begin a new internal dialogue about why you need to get moving? Here we go!
"A baby's time in the womb can change his or her physiology and genome. It can shape, to some extent, his or her future health and athletic hopes." said Gretchen Reynolds in her book titled, The First 20 Minutes. Wow! What a game changer. She went on to explain the findings of researchers at the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences. "Unborn children, it turns out, exhibit a training response, even though their mothers are seemingly doing all the work. When Dr. May examined the fetal cardiac readings, she found that fetuses whose mothers had exercised had healthier heart rhythms than those whose mothers had not worked out. And the changes persist."
While you may not be necessarily hoping your child will become an athlete, you likely do want your child to be healthy and if you know you can give them a leg up, even before they are born, who would say no to that? If you find yourself procrastinating, a good practice to being is to ask yourself, "what am I afraid of", as it has been said that procrastination indirectly points to a fear we harbor about confronting that which we are avoiding? You may fear looking like you don't know what you're doing, or that you'll do it wrong, or that you'll feel worse, etc. There are groups, forums, coaches, etc. that can help in navigating these feelings that come up and who can guide you in exercise selection and technique. This may be the exact challenge that changes your immediate family's overall health and approaching it as an opportunity makes it very exciting to work with.
When the decision has been made to become a parent, it seems like you must become selfless. You get double benefits of your time and money when you exercise while pregnant; basically two for the price of one. You might use the benefits your baby will reap to motivate you to get moving, but you also receive innumerable benefits (both vain and not). You, for instance, might be excited to learn that you may be able to minimize developing stretch marks by avoiding excessive weight gain and developing muscle to take some of the burden off the stretching skin from the growing uterus. Additionally, exercise can help alleviate swelling, varicose veins, and pain associated with pregnancy posture.
It is important to not get lost in the sauce about making everything perfect. Exercise can and should be something enjoyable. Think of exercising while pregnant as a bonding experience you are having with your little one; one that can start before life and carry on throughout childhood into adulthood.
Julia Broome is passionate about health and exercise but is most excited about educating women concerning the short and long term impact of exercise on pregnant women and their baby.