Want to have a healthier, less stressful pregnancy? You might not have to look any further than your local yoga studio.
Prenatal yoga classes help women in all stages of pregnancy participate in healthy, safe exercise. These specially designed classes teach breathing and meditation techniques, provide support for stressed moms-to-be and use asanas (yoga poses) that help expectant mothers build strength and stamina.
Yogis who lead these classes also avoid poses that may be risky for moms and design classes for all women, even those who have never done yoga before. If you currently practice yoga, be sure to tell your yogi that you are expecting so that he or she can help you stay safe.
New studies continue to reveal the benefits of prenatal yoga. So, with your doctor’s approval, unroll that mat, breathe deeply and get ready. After practicing yoga while you’re pregnant, you might experience:
Many pregnant women experience sleep problems that make dealing with the physical symptoms of pregnancy more difficult. However, exercise during pregnancy can help you achieve better sleep. Yoga, for instance, reinforces natural circadian rhythms. Our bodies follow these rhythms to determine when we should be awake and when we should be asleep. By keeping to this rhythm, you may find you fall asleep more easily.
Throughout a yoga class, you are encouraged to center your mind and focus on your breathing, clearing away stressful or anxious thoughts. Research shows that after a yoga class, pregnant women have fewer stress hormones like cortisol in their bodies. Breathing and meditation techniques can also be used outside of class to help you cope with a difficult pregnancy or work through pain during labor.
Research also reveals yoga can reduce symptoms of depression during pregnancy. Depression is associated with a higher risk of pre-term labor and low birth weight, so it is vital to reduce symptoms so both mom and baby enjoy better health.
Fewer Pregnancy Symptoms
It’s no secret that for some people pregnancy comes with some unpleasant symptoms like shortness of breath, back pain, nausea and headaches. Prenatal yoga classes can help you reduce these symptoms without having to rely on medicines. To help with pregnancy symptoms, you can:
- Use breathing exercises to overcome shortness of breath
- Practice relaxation techniques and certain poses to reduce nausea from morning sickness
- Build core and back muscles to reduce back pain
- Improve posture and stress levels to experience fewer headaches
Easier Labor and Delivery
Yoga asanas build strength and flexibility throughout your body. During yoga for pregnancy, you focus on asanas that assist with labor and delivery. These asanas help the muscles in your hips, abdomen and back grow stronger and have better endurance for a more comfortable, faster labor and delivery. You can also use breathing exercises you learned to get through the pain of contractions.
Advice for pregnant women has certainly changed over time — especially notions about diet and exercise. A recent report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association warns pregnant moms-to-be about the effects of age-old advice and encourages them to include a daily exercise regime in their pregnancy plans.
In the past, pregnant women were often told not to engage in any exercise and absorb twice as many calories during their pregnancy than they normally would. Today, we know that pregnant women leading an unhealthy lifestyle can cause major medical issues down the road such as childhood obesity.
According to the report, pregnant women without clinical restrictions should be encouraged to follow the same exercise guidelines as adults who are not pregnant. Meaning, they should participate in cardio and moderate strength training exercises “20 to 30 minutes a day on most days of the week.”
JAMA acknowledges that the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists first recognized a “sedentary lifestyle as a major health risk for women” in 1985 and published guidelines for exercise during pregnancy then.
“Yet, few pregnant women achieve an appropriate level of exercise in part because they are uncertain about the types and amount of exercise that can and should be performed,” states the report.
“While exercise may not be right for every pregnant woman, we do encourage capable moms-to-be to work with their obstetrician on creating a nutrition and workout plan,” ____ OB at WCF said. “Exercise during pregnancy can help reduce the risk for gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and fetal macrosomia.”
Women’s Care Florida encourages all women to have the safest and healthiest pregnancy as possible. Before participating in any exercise or making any changes to your diet, please schedule an appointment with your obstetrician.
Menopause can interfere with your lifestyle. It can slow you down due to lack of sleep, hot flashes, stress etc. Let’s face it —it’s a challenge to stay motivated when your body is going through “the change.” As difficult as it may seem, though, taking care of yourself should be a top priority when you reach menopause.
Once you go through menopause your risk for certain health conditions increases. For instance, menopause increases your risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, and urinary incontinence. Fortunately, making exercise part of your daily lifestyle can improve your health, and lower your risk for most types of health problems associated with menopause. Plus, exercise, in general, is good for not only your health, but mental health, too.
Here are five benefits of exercising during menopause.
1. Improve bone health
Women who have reached menopause are at higher risk for osteoporosis, or bone loss. Exercise helps enhance and maintain bone density and lowers your risk for fractures. Ask your gynecologist about fitness programs ideal for women who want to prevent osteoporosis.
Combine aerobic exercise with strength training for the best results. For example, do sets of weight training exercises such as push-ups, squats, and lunges, followed by 30 minutes of brisk walking. Over time, your muscles and bones will strengthen, and your risk for osteoporosis will become lower.
2. Improve heart health
Declining estrogen levels can affect blood vessel health, and increase your risk for heart disease. But aerobic exercise can improve blood flow and circulation, as well as blood vessel health. Engage in 30 to 45 minutes of aerobic exercise at least three days per week to lower your risk for heart disease. Examples of ideal aerobic exercises that can help are walking, running, swimming, and dancing.
3. Enhance your mood
Menopause is associated with irritability and mood swings on behalf of estrogen deficiency, which can even interfere with sleep and make you feel crankier than usual. Fortunately, exercise naturally helps lift your mood, and combats depression and anxiety. Maintain a regular exercise routine to benefit from increased endorphin levels and less moodiness.
4. Maintain a healthy weight
Many women tend to gain excess weight during menopause due to fluctuating hormone levels. However, exercise naturally helps combat weight gain, especially if you’re converting body fat to muscle mass thanks to your strength-training and cardio routine. Combine regular exercise with a diet high in nutrition to see better results in terms of weight loss and weight management.
5. Improve urinary incontinence
Menopause is associated with a higher risk for urinary incontinence and bladder leakage, which can be helped with exercise. Kegel exercises, also known as pelvic muscle exercises, can strengthen your bladder and urethral sphincter muscles, and prevent you from experiencing future accidents. Ask your gynecologist for more information about how to perform Kegel exercises, and how they can aid in preventing urinary incontinence.
The board-certified physicians at Women’s Care Florida are dedicated to providing the gold-star standard in women’s healthcare. Each of our Physician Care Groups has a distinctive style and practice that can be tailored to fit your individual needs.
For more information about how WCF can help you take care of you, contact us to schedule an appointment.
There’s no way to sugar coat it — losing weight isn’t easy. However, the benefits of weight loss often outweigh any challenges you might face during your weight loss journey. Losing just 10 pounds can greatly increase your quality of life and set you on track toward a healthier lifestyle.
If you’re feeling sluggish or out of shape, losing even just a few pounds can help boost your confidence and motivate you to keep up the hard work. If you’re looking for additional motivation, here’s five other things that happen to you body if you drop ten pounds:
1. Weight loss will decrease your chance of cardiovascular disease
Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, killing nearly 375,000 people per year. How can you prevent yourself from becoming another statistic, you ask? Start investing in a healthier lifestyle and shed those extra ten pounds you’ve been meaning to.
The heart is easily one of the hardest working muscles in your body, and any added weight puts unnecessary stress on it. Don’t make the heart’s integral job harder. When you start dieting and properly exercising, you decrease the likelihood that your coronary arteries will become hardened and narrowed and decrease blood flow to your heart. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will ensure that your heart gets adequate blood flow and can continue its job without extra burden.
2. Your joints will thank you for losing weight
Joint pain and inflammation dramatically decreases your quality of life. Walking up and down stairs can become a chore. Prescription painkillers can only eliminate so much pain, and often, you can’t function day-to-day from the mind-altering properties of painkillers. There is an easier solution than taking pills everyday.
Losing 10 pounds will lighten the load on your joints. Building up muscle could mitigate the damage on your knees and allow your body to develop a “suit of armor” to protect you from injuries related to joint deterioration.
3. Weight loss can help you say goodnight to sleep apnea
Sleep apnea is a potentially life-threatening disorder that disrupts proper airflow during sleep. If you snore, you have a form of a sleep apnea. There are more than 18 million Americans with sleep apnea, and few understand the substantial risk of heart attacks during sleep.
The correlation between weight gain and sleep apnea is well established. When an individual is overweight, they develop excess tissue in the back of their throats that can fall over the airway and decrease airflow.
Insufficient sleep will lead to weight gain, which exacerbates the sleep apnea, creating a vicious cycle of weight gain and feeling tired everyday. This makes it harder to make health-conscious decisions.
Losing just a mere 10 pounds can improve your quality of sleep immensely, allowing your airways to open up and increase oxygen to the brain.
4. Losing weight can reduce your risk of cancer
Doctors estimate that 1 in 20 diagnosed instances of cancer are linked to being overweight.
Fat cells in the body produce different proteins and hormones that are carried through the bloodstream. Having excess fat cells produces more of these “chemical messengers” throughout the body and increases the risk of several different types of cancer. Hormone levels are also changed by excess fat and may increase risk of cancer.
Shedding just 10 pounds can decrease the amount of excess fat cells and limit the amount of chemical messengers in your bloodstream, decreasing your risk of many different types of cancer.
5. Improve your sex life with weight loss
Being overweight can directly lower your libido, inhibiting sexual desires in both male and females. There are many physical and psychological side effects of being overweight that influence your libido.
For men, being overweight increases your risk of sexual impotence. Excess weight can bring along a myriad of problems like hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes, all of which cause limited blood flow to all parts of the body, including the penis. Even losing a small amount of weight has been shown to improve this condition.
For women, having excess fat may increase the risk of infertility by causing abnormalities with their eggs that make them harder to fertilize. Overweight women produce less mature eggs and are at higher risk for failed pregnancies. Losing excess weight can not only save your life, but improve your future baby’s health as well.
Ten pounds may not seem like a lot of weight lost, but the benefits are infinitely better than keeping the weight on. Losing those 10 pounds will improve your physical health scores across the board and may lead you down a track of habitually making health-conscious decisions and help you reach your goal weight.
For more information about how WCF can help you take care of you, contact us to schedule an appointment.
Between uncomfortable cramps, fatigue and breast tenderness, your menstrual period doesn’t exactly leave you feeling like you can conquer the world—or a hot yoga class. But exercising while Aunt Flo is in town may help make you feel better in a more natural, healthy way.
Exercise can lead to relief from uncomfortable period symptoms for many women. Whether you head out to your normal spin class or just take a walk around the neighborhood, you might experience these perks of period exercise.
Relief from Menstrual Cramps
Exercise provides a double dose of benefits to relieve cramps. First, when you exercise, your brain releases hormones called endorphins. Endorphins block pain receptors in your brain, helping to stop pain signals from your cramping, contracting uterus. Aerobic exercise, even a brisk walk, can release endorphins and provide some pain relief.
Exercise also improves circulation throughout your entire body, including to your uterus. When you have cramps, your uterus is contracting so hard that it is cutting off some blood flow, which sends pain signals to the brain. By opening up these blood vessels with increased circulation, you may be able to relieve menstrual cramp pain.
A Better Mood During Menstruation
Endorphins offer other perks, too. They can boost your mood and anxiety associated with your period. Again, all exercise that gets your heart beating faster, even a quick walk or hike, can release the positive benefits of endorphins.
More Energy During Your Period
Exercise might help you improve problems with low energy, too. When you exercise, you strengthen your heart so it can provide more blood and oxygen throughout your body, including to your brain. Exercise can also help relieve stress (another benefit of endorphins) that can drag your energy levels down during the day. Finally, exercise can improve sleep so you can make the most out of your eight hours (or so) of rest.
Less Painful Period Headaches
If you get headaches during your period, increased circulation and endorphin production can help make a headache less painful or even help it go away altogether.
Tips for Exercising on Your Period
Exercising on your period doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. Make it easier on yourself with these tips:
- You may consider taking ibuprofen or naproxen sodium in the morning to help head off cramps and achiness.
- Wear a supportive, well-fitted sports bra that keeps your breasts in place and helps with breast tenderness as you move.
- Wear a tampon and an ultra thin panty liner to help prevent leaks through your leggings.
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and ease bloating.
- Consider wearing looser, more comfortable clothing than your typical yoga pants.
Remember, if you have severe menstrual cramping and pain that disrupts your life, you should speak to your physician. Severe pain could be the result of a condition such as endometriosis.
At Women’s Care Florida, our OB/GYN experts can help diagnose the cause of menstrual pain. We provide treatment for all women’s health conditions and can help you find menstrual pain relief. Contact us today to learn more or schedule an appointment.
When you have your newborn baby snoozing adorably in your arms, the last thing you want to think about is exercise. As a new mom, late night feedings, dozens of diaper changes and hormonal swings can take away your energy and time, making it difficult to think about fitness.
Though postpartum exercise is difficult, we encourage our patients to find time to get active so they can experience better health as a new mom.
Benefits of exercising after pregnancy
Exercise after pregnancy can help you and your body adjust to motherhood in a healthy way. Even light activity, like a 15-minute walk each day can offer moms benefits such as better quality of sleep, lower stress and a higher energy level.
Exercise can also help you lose any extra baby weight, especially when combined with a healthy diet. It can improve your heart health, help you build muscle and start to tone up your abdomen after delivery.
Starting a regular exercise program when your child is an infant lets you start to show your child an example of a healthy, active lifestyle. As your child grows up, they will understand the importance of exercise and develop healthy habits by watching you.
Make a postpartum exercise plan
Before you start any exercise plan, you should speak to your doctor about what is right for your body and health. Every woman will have a different postpartum experience, so you’ll need to create a postpartum exercise plan for your needs.
If you had a normal vaginal delivery, you can likely start becoming active just a few days after giving birth. Talk to your OB/GYN about limitations. Don’t push it; start moving only when you feel your body is ready.
If you had a C-section, you may need more time to heal, around six weeks or more. Ask your doctor about exercise during your post-natal care appointments.
When you are ready for exercise after pregnancy, you attempt to get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. Incorporate these exercises into your weekly or daily routine to reach your exercise goals:
- Walking is a safe postpartum exercise you can do with your newborn. Head to your favorite park or jogging path with your baby safely secure in a stroller or carrier. If you were a runner before pregnancy, you’ll need to work back up to your normal routine.
- Pelvic and kegel exercises. You can perform these exercises at home to rebuild your pelvic floor muscles, reducing your risk for incontinence or other postpartum complications.
- Postpartum exercise classes. Some gyms, yoga studios and even hospitals offer classes designed for new moms, like Baby Boot Camp or Strollercize. These classes take it easy on your body, while emphasizing rebuilding strength in your abdomen and pelvic muscles.
- Swimming. Swimming is full-body exercise that is good for your joints. Swim at your own pace and slowly add time or distance to your workout.
- Aqua classes. Like swimming, aqua classes allow you to move while putting less stress on your joints and muscles. Try aqua yoga, Zumba or aerobics to find an exercise that works for your body.
If postpartum exercise leads to bleeding, pain or discomfort, you should stop exercising and give your body more time to heal. Pushing yourself too soon can hurt your recovery.
Tips for postpartum exercise
To find the time and energy for postpartum exercise, you’ll need to rely on your support team. You should:
- Schedule time for your partner to care for the baby while you go exercise.
- Find friends who also need to exercise and go to classes or on walks together.
- Incorporate your baby into exercise by attending Baby & Me classes.
- Remember that even just 10 minutes of exercise can make a difference. Try to fit in exercise when and where you can.
If you are worried about exercising after pregnancy, always speak to your trusted OB/GYN for more tips and advice.
For additional support losing weight, you can rely on Weight Loss Programs and Nutrition Counseling from Women’s Care Florida. Our understanding experts can help you develop a personalized plan for postpartum exercise and diet.