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The Pregnant Athlete
A study of elite athletes who continued their sport and work outs while pregnant found no increased risk of complications and concluded that it was safe for fit, well-conditioned women who have been training at a high level prior to pregnancy to continue to exercise at a high level during pregnancy as long as the pregnancy is uncomplicated.
Pregnancy is not the time to seek a new level of fitness. Instead, maintenance of pre-conception activity level is recommended.
The optimal level of training is very dependent on the mother’s pre-conception fitness level. It is important to listen to cues from your body and not push yourself to exhaustion. Maintaining proper hydration and controlling your body temperature are important factors to safe workouts. Adequate caloric intake is essential. A typical pregnancy requires 300 more calories a day. This number should increase depending on the intensity and duration of workouts to guard against a negative caloric balance. As your pregnancy progresses, your level of energy and reserves will slowly decline and altering training accordingly is necessary.
Pregnant and lactating women are encouraged to increase their intake of calcium and vitamin D to guard against a decrease in bone mineral density during pregnancy which could put them at risk for a fracture or stress fracture. The current recommendation for calcium intake is 1500mg of calcium a day and 800IU of vitamin D a day.
Exercise in an uncomplicated pregnancy is safe and holds many benefits for the expectant mother without any known risks. Consulting your obstetrician early in your pregnancy regarding continuing or initiating an exercise program is highly recommended.