Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Here's a great way for fitness professionals to share their knowledge base with others and promote their expertise to a wide range of fitness and health providers. Click on the link below to learn more:

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Guidelines for Strength Training During Pregnancy

You may have heard people warn that pregnant women shouldn't lift anything over their head or objects that are heavier than ten pounds when pregnant. These are warnings that still make the fitness trainer rounds when working with pregnant clients, yet neither is based in fact. There's no evidence for warning a pregnant women to avoid lifting over their head unless it causes discomfort or balance issues. The ten pound limit is even more questionable, as ten pounds would be too heavy for some women and as easy as a feather for others. It's important to always remember that each pregnant woman has a specific fitness level and ability, so setting arbitrary limits are a ineffective way to provide guidelines for this population. In addition, when confronted with statements such as these, always review the research that supports the claim before implementing the information into your training guidelines.

Many women choose to continue their pre-pregnancy strength training program while they are pregnant to maintain muscle strength and endurance, and most women may safely start strength training during their pregnancy as long as they are cleared for exercise by their healthcare provider. When developing a pregnant woman's fitness program you should take into account her current level of fitness and strength and pay close attention to how she feels during and after exercise. The key to maintaining a safe and effective routine is through consistent modification of the routine as pregnancy progresses, enabling your client to continue exercising without discomfort.

Strength training is an important prenatal fitness component, providing the strength needed to compensate for posture adjustments and weight gain that occurs with pregnancy. Women who continue or even start a strength training routine during pregnancy can help prepare her body for all the lifting done with a new baby and reduce the risk of low back pain. 
Strength training has not been shown to pose any harm to either the fetus or the mother as long as these general guidelines are followed:
  1. A gradual reduction in weight loads from pre-pregnancy will likely occur as the pregnancy progresses.
  2. Women may continue their pre-pregnancy strength training routine (wt/reps/set) as long as they modify the exercises for comfort as pregnancy progresses.
  3. If training causes muscle soreness during the pregnancy, it is recommended that overload be progressed by increasing the number of repetitions versus the resistance/wt.
  4. Monitor exercise technique carefully by mirror observation or supervision in order to correct for progressive postural changes that occur with advancing pregnancy. Improper lifting techniques may aggravate back problems and increase soft tissue injuries.
  5. Avoid maximal static lifts. They may cause a sudden increase in cardiac output and blood pressure, and employ the valsalva maneuver. During the valsalva maneuver there is a significant diversion of blood from the internal organs (such as the uterus) to the working muscles.
  6. Maximal lifts may also place extreme stress on the lumbar spine and other joint areas. Never overload an unstable or weakened joint.
  7. Modify supine positions after the first trimester of pregnancy by using an incline board or wedge.
  8. A strength-training workout involving all the major muscle groups should be performed three times per week, with a rest day between each muscle group training bout.
  9. Strength training machines are generally preferred over free weights because they tend to require less skill and can be more easily controlled. Resistance bands provide a safe and inexpensive alternative to weights and equipment.
  10. Instruct your client to listen to her body. If it hurts or does not feel right, do not do it.
  11. She should exhale with the lift and avoid holding her breath or bearing down and straining as she lifts.
  12. If a particular exercise produces pain or discomfort, it should be discontinued. If pain persists the client should consult with her healthcare provider.
  13. As always, pregnant women should check with her healthcare provider before starting or continuing an exercise program during pregnancy
  14. Learn more about current maternal fitness guidelines and training at: 

Monday, March 16, 2015

I’m excited to announce that I’ve joined the advisory board of Medical Fitness Network, a volunteer driven national fitness and healthcare referral service. The goal of this organization is to help improve the quality of life for those with chronic medical conditions by providing a free referral service to health and fitness professionals who work with these populations. MFN also serves as a great resource for their member-based referral network of fitness and health professionals, offering extensive educational and networking support as well as special pricing for products, services and continuing education courses.
If you're a health or fitness professional please visit MFN at the link below to learn more about how you can benefit from being a member.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Website Updates

My website, has been updated with new materials and information on the CE correspondence course that is currently being revised for 2015. Please check out the website and feel free to contact me if you're interested in taking the correspondence course or interested in attending one of my one-day trainings.

Join us at the Austin, TX March 28th Training.

Gestational Diabetes Mellitus and the Effect of Exercise

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) appears to be on the rise in the US, with the CDC suggesting that the prevalence of GDM may be as high as 9.2% ( The disease is defined as the onset of impaired glucose intolerance during pregnancy as diagnosed from a glucose screening test (also called a glucose challenge test or GCT) between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy. Pregnant women who develop GDM are at a higher risk complications during pregnancy and delivery, and the fetus may develop macrosomia, neonatal hypoglycemia, In addition, women who develop GDM have a greater than 7-fold increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. There’s some suggestion that babies born to mothers with GDM have a greater risk of developing impaired glucose tolerance.

What impact may exercise during pregnancy have on the development of this disease? There’s been an increase in the number of studies that have looked at the impact of prenatal exercise on the development of GDM, as well as how exercise may help with the treatment in women who have it. Recent data suggests that exercise during pregnancy may positively impact the development and treatment of GDM, but the results are somewhat mixed, and may be due to the quality of the studies and type, intensity and duration of the fitness programs. 

A Cochrane Review (considered a key resource in evidence-based medicine) reviewed randomized and cluster-randomized trials assessing the effects of exercise for preventing pregnancy glucose intolerance or GDM and found that conclusive evidence is not available to guide practice ( 2012 Jul 11;7:CD009021.). They suggest that more well-designed randomized trials, with standardized behavioral interventions are needed to assess the effects of exercise on preventing GDM and other adverse pregnancy. Other studies (Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2014 Oct 20., Br J Sports Med. 2013 Jul;47(10):630-6.) have concluded that exercise does reduce the incidence of GDM, and may play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes in women who had GDM (Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol. 2015 Jan;29(1):110-22.).

The bottom line?  The inclusion of an exercise program during pregnancy may be a positive step towards reducing the incidence of GDM, but we still don’t know what exercise threshold is needed to maintain or improve glucose tolerance. A reasonable prescription would be to set intensity levels at a moderate to somewhat hard level on the Borg scale (not so high that the woman is out of breath or feels discomfort) and allows her to maintain a duration of at least 30 minutes, 5-6 days a week. I suspect that maintaining a higher frequency (near 6 days a week) may play a greater role in maintaining normal daily glucose tolerance, so the exercise intensity should be modified to enable her to maintain >30 minutes of exercise at least 5 days a week. The type of exercise should be one that is comfortable and easily modified throughout pregnancy, and if possible be weight bearing. 

Do you have any experiences working with GDM? Feel free to post your comments and questions.

Key words:
Fetal Macrosomia: Fetal macrosomia is a term used to describe a newborn who's significantly larger than average.A baby diagnosed with fetal macrosomia has a birth weight of more than 8 pounds, 13 ounces (4,000 grams), regardless of his or her gestational age. Fetal macrosomia makes vaginal delivery difficult and puts the baby at risk of injury during birth and increased risk of health problems after birth.
Neonatal hypoglycemia: Neonatal hypoglycemia, defined as a plasma glucose level of less than 30 mg/dL (1.65 mmol/L) in the first 24 hours of life and less than 45 mg/dL (2.5 mmol/L).
Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM): A disorder characterized by an impaired ability to metabolize carbohydrates, usually caused by a deficiency of insulin or insulin resistance, occurring in pregnancy. It disappears after delivery of the infant but, in a significant number of cases, returns years later as type 2 diabetes mellitus. Treatment consists of self-monitoring of blood glucose, insulin administration, increased activity, and a meal plan that controls the amount of carbohydrates eaten.
Impaired glucose tolerance: Impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) is a pre-diabetic state of hyperglycemia that is associated with insulin resistance and increased risk of cardiovascular pathology. IGT may precede type 2 diabetes mellitus by many years.
Cochrane Reviews: A database of systematic reviews and meta-analyses which summarize and interpret the results of medical research. The Cochrane Library aims to make the results of well-conducted controlled trials readily available and is a key resource in  evidence-based medicine.


Thursday, March 5, 2015


I started this blog in order to provide updates on what's new in maternal fitness, and to offer information that will be helpful to health/fitness providers as well as pregnant and postpartum women who visit this blog.  With the push towards evidence based guidelines, it's my goal to promote research based information on this site and help you learn how to use the tools available to keep current within this field.
In my blogs I'll cover specific maternal health and fitness topics, offer links to new research concerning the topic, and discuss the impact of the research. I'll also offer innovative training techniques for creating a safe and effective maternal exercise program.  In addition, I'll  post dates for my CE trainings throughout the year as well as my webinars and conference speaker dates.

Please feel free to post your maternal fitness questions and comments.