Diabetes: Benefits of exercising while Pregnant
The other day I overheard one of my coworkers describing a kickboxing instructor at her gym. Apparently, this woman was nine months pregnant and due to give birth in less than two weeks and still teaching and participating in kickboxing. Wow, that's impressive!
Luckily, exercise during pregnancy does not need to be - and probably for safety reasons shouldn't be - that strenuous. However, moderate exercise is an important part of a healthy diabetes management program. Women with diabetes during pregnancy have to maintain extremely tight blood glucose control. Exercise is a wonderful way to lower blood sugar because it causes insulin to work more effectively. Pregnant women enjoy additional benefits by staying fit, including easier and more efficient labor. Also, some of the common complaints of pregnancy, such as constipation, insomnia, and even blood clots can be alleviated by moderate exercise which promotes regularity, quality sleep, and circulation.
There are all types of great exercises that pregnant, diabetic women can participate in. If you're already involved in more strenuous activities like running, those can usually be continued during the first and second trimesters, if you feel up to it. Walking, yoga, and other stretching exercises are great for pregnant women. They'll keep you flexible and strong, thus preparing your body for the effort of labor. My husband accompanied me on lots of walks with me while I was pregnant. We used to run together, but since I learned of my pregnancy while nursing a knee injury, I thought walking would be a better option. Those times out walking were a great opportunity for the two of us to talk about the pregnancy and dream about the little baby we were about to meet!
One of the biggest joys of my first pregnancy was swimming. I swam at least three days a week, for nearly an hour each time. Not only did it feel wonderful to be in the water, (especially as I grew larger!) but swimming got me in very strong cardiovascular shape. Since breathing is such an important part of the labor and delivery process, it's quite helpful to increase your lung capacity before the baby arrives. In fact, I used the breathing pattern, which I mastered by swimming all of those laps, while I was in labor. I even visualized myself swimming which had the dual effect of focusing my breathing and calming me with the memory of relaxing water.