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Experts Corner

Fitness

Athletes Exercising During Pregnancy
By Lisa Stone, ACE

Q. Following months of hard training for a triathlon and an additional 10km race, I discovered, rather unexpectedly, that I was 12 weeks pregnant. My GP suggested I remove all high-impact exercise from my program, so I replaced all running with walking. Since then (I'm now 18 weeks), not only am I concerned about my weight gain (about 8 lbs in those 6 weeks) but I also feel much more sluggish and generally I haven't as much energy. Of course, I put this down to the fact that I've reduced my exercise intensity relatively dramatically.

I'm continuing to swim, cycle and walk - I have also re-introduced some light weights (arms mainly). I'll get back into doing Yoga classes regularly too when work eases off.

I'm scared that I'll loose TOO MUCH of my fitness (which I worked SO hard to gain) and also concerned I'm going to pile on a ton of weight. On the other hand, I fully understand why I need to reduce the intensity etc. Do you have any thoughts, suggestions or advice you can give me?

A. I would recommend that you get a copy of Dr. James Clapp's book, "Exercising Through Your Pregnancy." Dr. Clapp has done extensive research on competitive athletes during their pregnancies, and I think you would find his book very helpful. It's written for medical people as well as the general public, so it's relatively easy to understand.

In a nutshell, Dr. Clapp has found that women who continue to exercise vigorously throughout pregnancy have leaner babies which necessitate fewer medical interventions during labor. The babies born to these athletic women are healthy, and the moms themselves tend to have shorter, less-complicated labors.

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