Experts encourage exercise regimen for expectant mothers
When Mill Race Marathon organizers called for more youth to participate in this year’s event, Julie Brinksneader answered.
Her daughter will be one of the youngest participants to cross the finish line — so young, she won’t even be born yet.
Brinksneader, a registered nurse with Columbus Regional Health, will be 34 weeks pregnant when she competes in the SIHO 5K Sept. 27.
While Olympian Alysia Montano ran an 800-meter race at eight months pregnant and sparked controversy this year, local obstetrician George Albers said there is nothing wrong with being active while expecting.
In fact, he said it is encouraged.
“Women who exercise throughout their pregnancy are less likely to develop diabetes, have a better labor and are more likely to continue exercising throughout their life,” he said.
If expectant mothers are already athletes, he recommends moderate to vigorous exercise four or five times a week. For the newcomers to exercise, he prescribes 30 minutes of mild to moderate exercise three times per week.
Brinksneader has been an athlete since middle school, when she started running track for Northside Middle School. She’s completed several marathons and half-marathons, so she said it just made sense to register for the 5K.
She hopes to run the entire event, but she will pay attention to the heat on race day.
Albers said pregnant women should avoid hot days all together, have a running buddy and to never leave home without a water bottle.
Although doctors traditionally distinguish mild, moderate and vigorous exercise through monitoring heart rates, he recommends using the talk test.
“If they can talk while doing exercises, then all is OK,” he said. “But if they have to slow down or stop what they are doing to talk, they need to dial it back until they can. The heart just gets inefficient at pumping blood if it gets too fast, and mom and baby suffer.”
Not a runner? Albers said low-impact aerobics are best for expectant mothers, and activities with the potential to be traumatic — such as ice skating or scuba diving — should be avoided.
Considering pregnant women to be in a “delicate condition” is a fallacy Albers would like to correct.
In fact, with low-risk pregnancies, active lifestyles are encouraged, he said.
“Making another human being is an amazing and awe-inspiring event, but it is a normal event of life,” he said. “We are designed to make babies and at the same time be able to do most of our normal stuff. Women are some of the strongest and most resilient creatures out there.”