Category Archive: Training

Hills, Hills, Hills

 

Now that we are entering the holiday season, some of us will be looking forward to some well deserved respite. For others, you will be looking for something different, maybe some cross training or different workouts to get you through the season. One favorite workout to keep you in running shape and shake things up a bit are: Hills!

I know what you’re thinking, unlike the lush green lands of Munnar in South India, there isn’t much hill action in Chicago but there are some locations around the city (see below) that will get you the elevation that you need! But if all else fails, we’ve included a remixed version of our workout that can be easily completed on a treadmill. Sorry, not sorry – no excuses. Hill workouts are beneficial to runners as an opportunity to strengthen and flex your muscles as well as building endurance and practicing your form. Other benefits to hill workouts include:

  • Increasing Speed
  • Improving Cadence
  • Activating Lower Body Muscles
  • Decreasing Risk of Injury
  • Building Power & Strength in Legs
  • Improving Stamina

Let’s get to it! Below you will find a good intermediate level hill work out with its treadmill alternative as well. You can also check out this video for basic form tips for both uphill and downhill running!

 

Hill Work Out

  • 1 mile warm up
  • 4 hill repeats (up and down the hill with a 80-90% effort)
  • 1/4  mile easy jog/recovery
  • 4 backwards up hill (run down as usual)
  • 1/4 mile easy jog/recovery
  • 4 hill repeats
  • 1/4 mile easy jog/recovery
  • 2 walking lunges up hill (run down as usual)
  • 1/2 mile cool down

 

Hill Work Out (Treadmill)

The treadmill should be set at a 1.0 incline to simulate flat running.

  • 10 min warm up (1.0 incline)
  • 2 min  small incline (3.0)
  • 2 min easy recovery (1.0 incline)
  • 1 min incline 5.0
  • 2 min easy jog (1.0 incline)
  • 1 min incline 6.0
  • 2 min easy jog (1.0 incline)
  • 1 min incline 7.0
  • 3 min recovery (1 min at 0.5 incline, 2 min at 1.0 incline)
  • Repeat x1
  • 5-10 minute cool down

Tip: Too easy? Use the first minute of the “easy recovery” to add 0.5 mph to your speed.

 

Chicago: Hill Finds

Want to find some hills to use on your own during the week? In the Chicago area, we can vouch a few locations:

  • Cricket Hill at Montrose Beach
  • Soldier Field sledding hill (behind Soldier Field but before McCormick Place; right on the running path)
  • Small knoll leading up to Oglesby Monument by Diversey Harbor
  • 18th Street Pedestrian Bridge to Soldier Field
  • Waterfall Glen in Darrien
  • Morton Arboretum
  • Palos Park (off Rte. 83 and South LaGrange Rd)
  • “Mt. Trashmore” at James Park in Evanston
  • Sledding hill at Warren Park
  • Sledding hill at Marvin S. Weiss Community Center/Woodland Trails in Propsect Heights
  • Parking Garages

As always, these hill work outs should be a part of general training program; even if it is in-between regular weekly runs. Optimum performance will come from these as opposed to one offs!

The Right Fuel for You

One important facet of training, nutrition, is just as tedious to add to your routine as all the other elements. In the same manner in which we diligently select our training shoes, gear and schedule; we should be applying to our nutrition.

Today we will focus on nutritional supplements. In this day and age, there isn’t an hour that passes that you are not reminded of the awesomeness of X product or the earth-shattering results of Y product.

Let’s face it, sometimes we need that extra kick to get us through the day. Not all supplements are created equal. There are powders, drinks, gels, energy chews and bars. Whether you feel like you need a boost during a long run or are curious to train with a product that will appear on course, here you will fund a guide to what’s best for you and your training plan:

Sports Drinks

Examples: Gatorade, Powerade, Vitamin Water

Ideal intake: 110 mg of sodium / 6-8% carbohydrates per 8 ounce serving

Sports drinks are primarily a mix of carbohydrates and water which quickly and easily fuel your body with an energy boost while keeping you hydrated. The sodium in these drinks help to retain fluids and nutrients which leave the body through sweat. Adding protein to the mix could elevate your endurance and has been found to help an individual perform better than a non-protein drink. The proper balance of these elements is essential. Read your labels before buying. These energy drinks should only be consumed when training as they are heavy in sugar and have little nutritional value.

Energy Gels

Example: GU, CLIF Shot, Gatorade Energy Chews

Ideal Intake: 25 -30 grams of carbohydrates / 50 mg of sodium

Energy gels have the same function as energy drinks – quick energy – in a super concentrated form. Generally supplied as on course supplements during long runs, gels are easy to consume and fast acting. Be wary of caffeinated items as they will help you last longer but bring with it an equally egregious crash. We recommend that you train with gels as they highly body specific and what may work on most may not work on you. All gel intake should be accompanied, at minimum, by 16 ounces of water.

Energy Bars

Example: CLIF Bar, Powerbar

Ideal Intake: 200-250 calories / 5 grams of fat & fiber / 10 grams of protein

These are great nutritional supplements as they are filled with carbohydrates and protein but are more filling and able to satisfy hunger best during long runs. Energy bars are the most diverse and nutritious of the list as bars are often filled with good grains and fiber. When shopping for the ideal bar, it is best to picture when you would be eating the bar – prior, during, post – a run. The rule of thumb weighs in on lighter fiber, heavier carbs with plenty of water for during and heavier, protein based bards for pre or post runs.

 

The Importance of Taking Days Off

Today, it seems as though our society has adopted this “all or nothing” type of mentality, and working out is no exception. Oftentimes, working out can be a struggle. However, for some people, taking days off when trying to reach a goal can be just as difficult. We do not want to lose any of the progress that we are making, and we would like to see results as soon as possible. Sometimes, we get so caught up in our workout routines that we forget to take days off and give our bodies the rest that they need.

According to Russel Wynter, NASM certified master trainer and co-owner of MadSweat, “when the stress is too much physiologically for the system to handle, it can and will lead to overuse injuries, such as stress fractures, muscle strains, and joint pain.” Depending on the severity of the injury, we could ironically be pushing our goals farther and farther away if we do not give our muscles a break.

More negative side effects associated with excessive amounts of exercise with limited rest include a decrease in performance, sickness, a change in your hormones, poor sleeping patterns, and a decrease in your immune system. Certified Personal Trainer, NASM CPT, Sarah Gibson states that when we experience tears or strains in our muscles and joints, we in turn activate our immune system. Rest is a key element in ensuring that take a day off and step back from the practice, our immune system does not hve enough time to fix everything. Wynter also states that, “you should have at least one day of rest before attempting to work similar muscle groups again. The general rule is it requires a minimum of 48 hours to recover with full recovery seen within 72 to 96 hours post workout.”

When it comes to the recommended time spent on cardio throughout the week, experts strongly suggest that 30-60 minutes of moderate workouts (5 times/week) or 20-60 minutes of intense workouts (3 times/week) in order to get the most of your training. In order to build strength, your muscles need time and rest to rejuvenate. Different athletes and people with different goals will have different versions of “taking a day off.” For bodybuilders and pure strength training athletes this may mean taking a break from the weights one day and doing some form of light cardio. For others, this may mean withholding from all strenuous activity as a whole.

No matter what your athletic level may be, it is important to give your body rest and time to recuperate. If not, the possible consequences that you may experience may end up doing more harm than good regarding your body’s progress.

CK

Works Cited:
Gibson, Sarah. Well Bridge. “Give it a Rest: It’s OK to Skip Your Workout.” https://www.wellbridge.com/fit-like-that/give-it-a-rest-its-ok-to-skip-your-workout
Rosenbrock, K. The Active Times. “Why Rest Days are Just as Important as Working Out.” https://www.theactivetimes.com/why-rest-days-are-just-important-working-out

 

Tips for Running in the Rain

As runners, we have to be ready for almost every kind of weather situation.  This year, we have experienced almost every type of change in weather imaginable. Even though we keep our fingers crossed that we will have a dry and sunny run when we step outside, it doesn’t always work out that way. So, we wanted to remind you about a few things you can do to prep for a rainy run outside. Expect the unexpected, plan for the worst, and hope for the best! As they say in show business… The run must go on!

Tips for Running in the Rain:

  1. Wear the best ‘rain’ ready clothes – you haveand say ‘NO’ to cotton. When shopping for running gear, make sure you purchase some items that are cotton free. Cotton tends to soak up water, and it will weigh you down when you begin running in the rain. Dress light! The clothes you use should be a bit tight or at least well-fitted because loose clothes in the rain and wind will become a bit uncomfortable as you get wetter. This will also reduce your chaffing. For your feet, treat them to the thinnest socks you have, no matter what your feet will get wet if it’s raining. If you have moisture-wicking socks, wear ‘em!
  2. Dress in layers if it’s cold, but be sure not to overdress. It’s important that you wear SMART layers. Wear enough to keep you comfortable throughout your run, but make sure you don’t get too hot as the run goes on. Wearing a wind shell made of a waterproof material as your top layer can be a great way to keep your core temperature up and hold in your body heat. This tip will be HUGE to consider if it’s raining or cold outside.
  3. Make yourself visible. Those “extra” neon clothes that you have been dying to wear might just come in handy after all. When it rains, it gets darker, making it harder for others to see you. Making sure you are always visible to cars and pedestrians is essential to ensure your safety during your run. Plus, when else are you going to get to wear those neon leggings?
  4. Reduce your chances of chafing excessively.Use bodyglide or petroleum jelly when you’re dry. Think about where you may have body parts rub against fabric or even against itself. If you decide to go with shorts, it might be a smart idea to throw on some compression shorts underneath to prevent the chaffing! Some places to consider: above the heel, toes, under arms, between thighs… we think you get the picture.
  5. Cover that head.One of the most annoying and distracting things is water dripping across your face while you are running. Keeping the water out of your eyes using a light runner’s cap or a visor will help you focus on the ground and the course ahead of you so you don’t stumble on anything or anyone.
  6. Get a grip! If the bottom of your shoes has a smooth, flat surface, you risk the chance of slipping while running. Having grooves in the soles of your shoes is a huge factor that can help you run faster, better, and safer. This will allow you to get a better overall grip on the road or sidewalk you are running.
  7. Glasses might not help you see.If you wear glasses, be sure to bring your windshield wipers. Just kidding, but be ready for them to fog up because of the rain. So, either wear your contacts or have something dry in your shorts (maybe inside of a plastic bag) to dry your glasses from time to time.
  8. Protect those electronics!Don’t forget to put that phone in a waterproof case or a Ziploc bag to make sure you don’t get water on your phone as you are running. After all, a damaged smart phone can make for a long rest of your run.

Yoga for Runners

Whether you are a competitive or recreational runner, tight and weak hamstrings can affect everyone and cause pain and injury among athletes. Yoga can be not only a relaxing and fun way to enhance your strength and release some muscle tension, it can also become a runner’s best friend. According to Katie Neitz of Runner’s World, “A simple yoga routine loosens tight spots, strengthens weak spots, and makes you a better, less injury-prone runner.”

The following pose provided by Kelle Walsh from Experience Life sets its focus on an athlete’s Adductor Magnus in order to “alleviate tightness, prevent hamstring injuries, and make it easier to activate the glutes.” This pose will allow runners to loosen up their muscles that are strained throughout their workout. Athletes can expect to see improvements both on and off the mat by participating in yoga. This pose designed specifically for runners along with many others can be a key component in bumping your workout performance up to the next level!

Target Area: Hamstrings

Pose: Standing Straddle Forward Fold 

When to perform: Post-workout or during recovery. 

 How to do it: 

  • Step your feet wide apart (about a leg’s length), with your feet parallel.
  • Walk your hands down your legs, and allow your torso to hang between your legs. You can bend your knees and rest your hands on the floor or a yoga block, if you choose.
  • Bend and stretch your legs a few times, and press down evenly through the bottoms of your feet to gently deepen the stretch. Then be still, and hold for five breaths.

Note: You can also perform this pose with feet turned inward about 30 degrees, internally rotating at the hips to deepen the stretch.

 

The next pose provided by Runner’s World aims at both stretching a commonly strained muscle as well as reducing the risk of injury.

Target Area: Shins and arches of feet

Pose: Toes Pose

Benefits: Prevention of plantar fasciitis—stretches out an athlete’s shins as well as the arches of the feet

How to do it:

  • Kneel on your mat with your toes curled under.
  • Sit back on your heels (you can place a yoga block or pillow between your heels and glutes).
  • Breathe deeply for 10 counts.
  • Point your toes, place your hands on the mat behind you, and lean back as you attempt to lift your knees off the mat. If your knees don’t come far up, don’t worry. You’ll still feel a nice stretch in your shins and arches.

CK

Works Cited
Neitz, Katie. Runner’s World. “Yoga for Runners.” http://www.runnersworld.com/the-body-shop/yoga-for-runners
Walsh, Kelle. Experience Life. “Yoga for Athletes: There’s a Pose for That!” https://experiencelife.com/article/theres-pose-for-that/

Less is More

When it comes to building muscle and weightlifting, there is an all too familiar notion that the heavier the weights you lift are, the more muscle you attain. However, a recent study may have just proven that to not always be the case.


THE STUDY

A recent study conducted by researchers at Ontario’s McMaster University studied the effects and differences between two groups of young men randomly divided into two separate groups. Group number 1 used weights 75-90% of their one rep max (8-12 reps) over a timespan of 12 weeks. Group number 2, however, used weights 30-50% of their rep max (20-25 reps). Throughout the 12-week time period, researchers measured the 49 participants muscle strength and size, along with the hormone levels of each of each of the young men.


THE RESULTS

After examining the young men’s muscles and hormone levels, the results were nearly identical! The men who used 75-90% of their rep max did not have any significant difference when compared to the men who did not use their max. Both the muscle strength and size of the participants seemed to mirror one another, supporting the idea that completing fewer reps with heavier weights does not necessarily make you stronger as compared to if you were to complete more reps with lighter weights.

When it comes to lifting heavier weights, the case can be made that your body exerts more energy to complete fewer reps (as little as 1-5 at times). However, by completing more reps with fewer weights, your body is trained in the art of muscular endurance. The two different approaches to weight lifting will train your muscles in different ways to ultimately give you the same final result.


MOVING FORWARD

At some point in anyone’s weightlifting or workout career, however, athletes reach the dreaded plateau. Your body adapts to your workout routine and seeks a change in order to continue seeing improvements. However, the idea that more reps with lights weights can warrant the same results as fewer reps with heavier weights could be a perfect solution. If you have reached the point in your workout where you simply cannot incorporate any more weight into your routine, it might be time to change it up! Confuse your muscles with a smaller weight amount and complete more repetitions. This will train your muscles in a new and effective way in order to ensure you are still improving upon and training the strength and size of your muscles.

CK

Works Cited:
https://greatist.com/move/strength-training-lift-heavier-weights-or-do-more-reps
https://experiencelife.com/article/strength-in-repetition/

 

Why Strength Training is Important for Athletes

Strength training has become a more prevalent part of an athlete’s workout regime. While it has been proven that strength training can help us to build muscle and burn fat, there are so many different factors and reasons why strength training is something that everyone should incorporate into their routines.


Along with muscle building and fat burning, strength training also improves upon a person’s posture and helps to strengthen your bones. As a result of this, the likelihood of an injury among athletes as well as the severity of the injury itself is greatly reduced. In the case of an injury, however, the healing process can also be faster as well. Another added benefit that is associated with strength training is an increase in bone mineral density. According to an article published on Coach & A.D., “in terms of bone material, progressive resistance training heightens protein and mineral content. Significant improvements in bone density have been show to occur after a mere four months of dedicated strength training.”

 

The results of strength training, however, can go beyond this even. According to Andrew Heffernan of Experience Life, strength training can keep you healthy, and it helps to prevent against and fend off some major chronic conditions.  He reports that “a 2012 paper published in the Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention reports that muscular strength provides measurable protection against heart disease, cancer, hypertension, obesity, and metabolic syndrome. Stronger kids are not as likely as their less-muscular counterparts to develop type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic disorders.”

 

Along with decreasing your risk of certain chronic diseases, strength training also helps a person age well. Through strength training, our bodies and muscles are better able to prevent against muscle loss as a result of weakening levels of muscle-building hormones and a deteriorating ability to convert the food you are eating into usable muscle for your bodies. As you age, it is important to keep your muscles intact to avoid injury and falls. One of the best ways to do this, according to experts, is through strength training!

 

Our hormones have a delicate balance that is affected by various factors. One of the more effective and natural methods to balance out these hormones is through strength training. According to Jade Teta, ND, an integrative physician in North Carolina and longtime fitness coach, “weight training is the only activity that creates hormonal changes that help both men and women burn fat while maintaining or gaining muscle” (Heffernan). Strength training can be an important factor when it comes to regulating our hormones. It has also been proven to stimulate production of the sex hormones found in both men and women and act as a source of rebalance.


No matter what your reasons may be for wanting to incorporate strength training into your workout routine, it is highly recommended. Not only will it make you stronger and leaner, it will also provide you with long-term benefits that will help your overall health and wellness!

CK

Works Cited:
Heffernan, Andrew. Experience Life. “The Case for Strength.” https://experiencelife.com/article/the-case-for-strength/
Mannie, Ken. Coach & A.D. “Why strength training is important for all athletes.” https://coachad.com/articles/powerline-why-strength-training-is-important-for-all-athletes/

Keep Your Goals High and Your Squats Low!

Squatting is a workout technique that strengthens and tones our glutes as well as various leg muscles including our quads, hamstrings, and calves. Squatting is great because of the versatility of the exercise! It can be performed almost anywhere at any time with no equipment or weights! Another added benefit to squatting is that, due to the increased muscle you are gaining in your legs, you are able to burn more fat as well! More muscle = more fat burned. By engaging the core muscles in the body, squatting helps to improve and strengthen the core as well. Because squats help to improve upon this, you are able to build and maintain a better sense of mobility and balance as well. Along with these benefits, strengthening your muscles will also help to decrease the risk of injury. Adding weights to your squats can help to incorporate your upper body as well, leading to a full-body workout all in one!


 

According to an article on Experience Life by Heidi Wachter, the following list contains tips and cues to keep in mind in order to ensure you are performing the movement accurately in order to get all of the benefits out of the squat.

 

  • Begin the squat by hinging at the hips and pushing your butt back.
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor, balancing your weight evenly.
  • Keep your chest up, shoulders pulled back, and spine neutral.
  • Engage your core by bracing it throughout the movement.
  • As your knees bend, keep pushing your hips back so your weight stays balanced in the middle of your feet

 


By perfecting your squat during your workout, you will actually be benefitting your everyday routine as well! This is because “squat exercises are a motion that your body uses often in real life. Whenever you bend down to pick something up, you’ll be thankful that, because of your squat exercise routine, you’ll have the strength and flexibility to get the job done” (Fitday).

CK

 

Works Cited:
Fitday. “The Benefits of Squat Exercises.” http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/fitness/exercises/the-benefits-of-squat-exercises.html
Peak Fitness. “Squats: 8 Reasons to Do This Misunderstood Exercise.” http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2012/05/25/darin-steen-demonstrates-the-perfect-squat.aspx
Wachter, Heidi. Experience Life. “5 Tips to a Better Squat.” https://experiencelife.com/article/5-tips-to-a-better-squat/

Race Recovery Needs

 
 
“IT’S FINALLY OVER” seems to have been the consensus we heard throughout the Spring Market Finish Festival on Sunday. As thousands of runners meandered their way from the Finish to the venue grab food and drinks, there were some who simply plotted down on a nice stretch of grass and called it a day. The human body is a magnificent structure unparalleled to any in the animal kingdom. In its top shape, we are invincible.

But like all finely tuned structures, maintenance and recovery are key. We know that the days following an event there are those who opt from anywhere between: A) I am doing NOTHING for the next couple of days to B) a nice 3 mile run on Tuesday will be just what I need! Please see below on some great recovery tips to get you safely back on the run!

 

REST

For beginners and pros alike, there is nothing more important than allowing your body to rest after a big race. The amount of exertion and pressure placed on muscle and joints on race day calls for an equal amount of rest. Getting back on the road or a machine can actually increase your risk of injury or performing bad workouts as you may still be sore or sensitive from the event. We understand that you just completed heavy mileage and you don’t want to lose your stamina. That’s completely fine but take it slow if you can’t stay away- use cross training and fill your next days with alternate exercises such as swimming or yoga or a nice long walk to keep your muscles active without heavy exertion.

 

RECOVER

Have you ever seen a brake pad when it needs to be changed? Ok, so that might be a dramatic example but your body is worn out after a race; not only because of race day but due to the cumulative days of training leading up to it. Your body needs maintenance. Massages and stretches are highly recommended in the days that follow. This will help your body’s circulation to heal your body naturally. If you are feeling extra soreness, ice baths or baths with Epsom salt are an easy and efficient solution. Avoid anything that will weigh heavy on your knees or feet.

 

EMOTIONAL STABILITY

You have been training for months and have put your heart and soul into pushing yourself across that Finish line. On race day, a huge amount of endorphins are released and can often leave you feeling fatigued or event lightly depressed in the days that follow. Some runners have experienced feeling lost or unbalanced. This is normal. There is a recovery period emotionally as well as your body stabilizes from overworking the endorphins. We have seen that continuing your routine will help to create a sense of continuity and balance. Continue meeting up with friends or your run group but maybe go for a yoga session or a low interval boxing class to keep your energy levels up.

 

NUTRITION

Running long distance can heavily deplete your body’s antioxidant and energy reserves. During your recovery period, you want to eat foods that will aid your body in replenishing these reserves. Whole grains and protein will help your muscles recover and repair while being easy to digest in case you still feel uneasy after the race. Avocados, cottage cheese with fruit, nuts, not only rich in potassium but in monosaturated fats can help boost overall cardiovascular health. Hydration is also key! Replenish your body with lots of water as well as vitamin-rich drinks such as fruit smoothies or pure juices to elevate your electrolytes and antioxidants.

 

REFLECT

Most importantly, take pride in your accomplishments. Don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t make your goal time or pace. Take the time to go through your training and race day and jot down what worked for you and what didn’t. Reflect on how you felt throughout the race and how you can improve. Post and share with your family and friends who’s support and encouragement kept you going mile after mile. We all run for different reasons- remember those reasons. The beauty of the human experience is that there is always another day, another race, another chance for improvement. YOU are invincible!

AT

Gustafson, Kristin. “7 Post-RaceRecovery Tips.” Web blog post. ACTIVE.com. Active Network, LLC. Retrieved May 23, 2017

Fit for Two: Exercising While Expecting

Olympic runner Alysia Montano competes in 2014 Track & Field Championship while 34 weeks pregnant

 

“Who Run the World?”

We have all heard the stories, passed down from generation to generation, of our sisters of old bearing children through everything from surviving the Ice Age and global epidemics, to colonization and traveling to new lands, to widespread industrialization and the chaotic modern career. Let’s face it, women are pretty resilient.

We understand, as with all things pregnancy, there are risks to placing exertion on growing life. Yet, pregnant women crossed the Wild West and spent weeks in jail for protesting for our right to vote (We see you, Emmeline Pankhurst.) So, why does there remain a stigma behind the contemporary fit and pregnant lifestyle?

The truth of the matter boils down to ill-informed word of mouth, misconceptions and outdated guidelines. There seems to have always been a dichotomy between what should or should not be done while carrying a child. “Pregnant women were traditionally told ‘don’t move’ and ‘eat for two,’” says Raul Artal, MD, chairman of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health at the St. Louis University School of Medicine.

Many myths and misconceptions about what is good and healthy for women and their unborn child have traditionally replaced information with trepidation: “There’s been a lot of fear, and that’s really been a disservice,” says Catherine Cram, MS, an exercise physiologist and coauthor with Tere Stouffer Drenth of Fit Pregnancy for Dummies (Wiley Publishing, 2004). Stories passed down from nosy neighbors to frantic, expectant mothers have perpetuated this cycle for years. Lack of accessible information coupled with archaic medicinal practices led to many misconceptions which have unfortunately carried over late into the 20th century.

New Age Information

Fast forwarding to the 1980’s, one forward thinking gentleman would embark on a journey whose work and studies continue to be analyzed and postulated to this day. James Clapp III, MD set out to study what he assumed would be the health risks associated with exercising during pregnancy. With his research many misconceptions, including the following, were put to rest:

  1. “Exercise can cause infertility, low birth weight, congenital abnormalities and preterm labor.”
  2. “Running and other forms of weight-bearing exercise can cause miscarriage.”
  3.  “Don’t exercise for more than 15 minutes at a time.”
  4. “Don’t start a new exercise regimen once you become pregnant.”

His work revolutionized the modern woman in a decade that was all about fitness (We see you Jane Fonda) and helped spread the word on a topic that had been, up until then, kept mum (pun intended).

With these misconceptions being put to rest, why do we continue to hear opposing advice from professionals? “Although the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) updated its guidelines in 2002, lifting most restrictions on exercise during pregnancy (including keeping your heart rate under 140), many healthcare providers still aren’t aware of the revisions” states Sheila Mulrooney Eldred for the Experience Life Magazine article, Fitness for 2.

Thanks to that other revolution of the 80’s (hello internet), this information became readily available and widespread. According to Clapp’s studies, which can be found in his book Exercising Through Your Pregnancy, there is a plethora of benefits to exercising while pregnant such as:

  • 50 percent less likely to need induced labor or to require Pitocin (synthetic oxytocin)
  • 50 percent less likely to need intervention because of abnormalities in the fetal heart rate
  • 75 percent less likely to need forceps or a cesarean section

Not to mention that these women tend to feel better about themselves during and after the pregnancy. In addition, Eldred continues: “Clapp discovered that the placentas of fit moms tend to function better, creating a better blood flow between mother and fetus. Exercising also increases blood volume in moms, preventing varicose veins and swelling.”

Now that you have the green light, what now?

We are not suggesting that you enroll in Extreme CrossFit with spiked boulders (please don’t) but you do have options on various exercise regimes from running to swimming in order to keep you active and fit while carrying your little bun in the oven. Release the fear of the past and embrace the possibility of the future. Eldred notes these following general guidelines:

  • Fuel up. Eat enough to satiate hunger, Clapp says – preferably in small, frequent meals balanced with proteins, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats, and preferably from whole-food sources.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink enough to keep your urine relatively clear (that’ll require approximately 91 ounces a day).
  • Be gentle with yourself. Expect to ease up here and there. Pregnancy, after all, will cause more dramatic changes in your body in a short period of time than anything else in your life. Your body is also putting a lot of energy and resources into making another body – not a trifling effort!
  • Rest as much as possible. Clapp suggests spending an extra hour at leisure for each hour you work out (in addition to your regular rest), and avoiding exercising to the point that you feel stressed out about it.
  • Adjust your athletic expectations. Regardless of your activity or fitness proficiency, it’s important to monitor the intensity of your exertion.

Pregnancy is a beautiful and cherished moment in a woman’s life. “I like to see women trusting their own bodies, and that’s what I generally advise them to do. There’s no reason to let everyone around you make you feel tentative about this really wonderful experience.” says Cram when asked for his best advice. While there are some changes that are forced upon us (until next time, Malbec…hello maternity clothes), exercise shouldn’t be one of them.

For the full article, please visit Experience Life, Fitness for 2 (Eldred, 2005).

Photo: Andy Lyons for Getty Images