As an expectant mother with an active lifestyle, I had many questions about exercising during pregnancy. After some research and discussion with my doctor, I learned the following:
Gone are the days when women are discouraged from being active during pregnancy. Unless you have a medical or pregnancy complication, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most if not all days of the week.
There are many benefits to exercising throughout pregnancy, including:
Preventing excess weight gain and fat accumulation
Decreased health problems such as gestational diabetes, pregnancy induced high blood pressure and postpartum depression
Fewer pregnancy discomforts such as backaches, constipation, bloating and swelling
Improved your mood and energy level
Increased stamina and endurance, which will help prepare you for labor
Perhaps you have read, or learned from personal experience, that exercise is a great way to reduce stress. What you might not know however, is that physical activity is now recognized by the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association as a prescription for both the prevention and management of chronic disease, and can play an important role in cancer prevention and recovery. In fact, the National Cancer Institute reports that greater physical activity is associated with lower risk for cancer incidence, especially when considering breast and colon cancers.
Research investigating the impact of exercise on mortality is ongoing, but we have learned that it has tremendous benefits throughout survivorship. Exercise helps improve surgical outcomes, fight fatigue, maintain bone density, improve functional ability and reduce weight gain. The American Cancer Society asserts that patients who adopt its guidelines on nutrition and physical activity for cancer prevention, may reduce their risk of developing secondary cancers, as well as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
Beyond these physical benefits, exercise can have a wonderful impact on patients’ psychological health throughout diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship. Exercise can help ward off depression, improve mood, reduce anxiety, increase self-esteem and improve sleep. As a result, exercise can help improve physical, functional and emotional quality of life while navigating the changes and challenges that arise following a diagnosis of cancer. Continue reading →