Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Pregnancy and Running Recovery

Today's Workout:
5 mile run

Hello everyone! Today's topic, Pregnancy and Running Recovery, is extremely appropriate because I am HURTING! I ran 14.5 miles on Sunday and I feel like an old lady. Everything hurts! I mean everything. My legs hurt, my back hurts, my toes hurt, my arms hurt, blah blah blah. This totally sucks. This is probably the most frustrating part of pregnancy.

You see, pregnant women change in many ways. We change physically, emotionally and internally. By internally I mean our internal physiology, such as our vascular system, cardiac system, metabolic system, etc. These internal changes makes it harder for us to recover from the day to day exercises we do. Just being pregnant is an exercise! Even when pregnant women are sitting down, their bodies don't shut down. This explains why we need to consume more calories and rest more. Let me take you back to the topic of exercise recovery...

The following are things that change in a pregnant woman's body that affects exercise:

1. Increased blood volume
2. Increased heart rate
3. Increased cardiac output
4. Decreased vascular resistance
5. Metabolic changes
6. Weight gain
7. Increased oxygen consumption

You're probably wondering what I'm talking about, but just follow me. Here's a simple breakdown:

Numbers 1, 2 and 3 are all inter-related. Pregnant women's blood volume (the amount of blood they have in their body) increases in order to provide the baby with life. The extra blood is used by the major organs to essentially preserve and protect the growing baby. Because the women need all this extra blood, their hearts pump faster and faster in order to keep the blood flowing and moving through their body. So basically, their circulatory system or vascular resistance is on over-drive.

Keep following me...

Numbers 5 and 7 are related like this: Pregnant women have a higher oxygen consumption (they need more oxygen), which impacts their metabolism. These metabolic changes take a lot of energy from the women, which causes them to be tired and fatigued.

Next issue...

Number 6: Weight gain in pregnant women increases the workload on the body because of the added weight. This causes poor circulation to the lower limbs, so they tend to get swollen legs and feet.

How it all comes together:

When pregnant women exercise, their heart rate increases, which means that their cardiac output is affected. They basically have to work harder to achieve a "normal" level of exercise. Because their body is protecting the baby, their circulatory system or vascular resistance slows down, which means that they get less oxygen to their muscles. And because their oxygen needs highly increase while they exercise, they need a lot more energy to perform these physical activities. Using up all this energy makes them really tired. So, the combination of extreme exhaustion from exercise, the lack of oxygen to the muscles and fluid retention in the body makes it a lot more difficult for pregnant women to recover from exercise. That's why they need more rest and more water. Did you catch all that?

So to sum it up in two words: I'M TIRED!

Have you ever felt pregnancy fatigue? Share your story!
I'm grateful for the comfortable
bed I sleep on every night.

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