Contrary to what a lot of moms-to-be may think, pregnancy is not the perfect excuse to lay around all day doing nothing but eat and watch your favorite sitcom reruns. Do this and you might actually end up harming your little one.
Instead, it can be a wonderful time to get active and enjoy the benefits of exercise for you and your baby. In fact, even if you never used to work out before you got pregnant, this is the perfect time to start!
But how can you exercise safely during pregnancy? Well, that’s exactly what this guide is here for! Here you’ll find all the answers to all your questions about exercising during pregnancy. We’ll also give you some tips and routines to help you stay fit and healthy throughout.
The Importance of Exercise During Pregnancy
Regular exercise during pregnancy has many numerous benefits for both mother and baby such as:
- Improved cardiovascular health: It helps strengthen your heart and improves blood circulation
- Gestational weight management: It can help you maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy, reducing the risk of complications such as gestational diabetes and hypertension.
- Reduced discomfort: Alleviates common discomforts such as backaches, constipation, and swelling. It also promotes better posture and flexibility.
- Enhanced mood and mental well-being
- Exercise also strengthens the muscles used during labor and can improve endurance, making the birthing process more manageable.
Safety Guidelines for Exercising During Pregnancy
While exercise is generally safe during pregnancy, it’s important to follow some guidelines to ensure safety throughout:
- Consult your doctor: Before attempting any exercise program, talk to your healthcare provider. They will provide personalized recommendations based on your health status and the stage of your pregnancy.
- Choose low-impact activities: Opt for low-impact activities that are gentle on your joints and minimize the risk of injury. Walking, swimming, and prenatal yoga are all excellent choices.
- Listen to your body: Pay close attention to your body’s cues and adjust as needed. As your pregnancy progresses, you may need to reduce the intensity of certain exercises. If you experience any pain, dizziness, or shortness of breath, stop exercising and call your doctor.
- Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workout to stay hydrated. Dehydration can increase the risk of overheating, which is not safe for you or your baby.
- Warm up and cool down: Always begin your exercise routine with a proper warm-up to prepare your body for physical activity. This can include gentle stretches and range-of-motion exercises. Afterward, cool down with light stretching to help prevent muscle soreness and promote relaxation.
- Avoid exercises with a high risk of falling or injury: This includes contact sports, horseback riding, skiing, and activities with rapid changes in direction.
- Wear comfortable clothing and supportive footwear
- Take frequent breaks during your exercise sessions to rest and avoid overheating. Also, avoid exercising in hot and humid environments, as it can lead to dehydration
- Don’t push yourself too hard: Pregnancy is not the time to aim for personal bests or extreme fitness goals. Just listen to your body and only focus on maintaining a healthy level of activity.
Routines for Exercise During Pregnancy
As long as you are healthy and have no complications during pregnancy, you can choose from a variety of exercises that suit your preferences and fitness level.
Ideally, you should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. This is on top of some strength training and stretching exercises. You can divide the 150 minutes into 30-minute workouts on 5 days of the week or into smaller 10-minute workouts throughout each day.
If you are just starting out, consider starting slowly and gradually increasing your activity. If you were very active before pregnancy, you can keep doing the same workouts you are used to at a slightly less intensity and with your doctor’s approval.
Moderate-intensity aerobic activity includes brisk walking, swimming, cycling on a stationary bike, low-impact aerobics, dancing, jogging (if you were a runner before pregnancy), or prenatal yoga. These exercises will help you improve your cardiovascular fitness, burn calories, and tone your muscles.
Examples of strength training exercises for pregnant women include using light weights or resistance bands, doing bodyweight exercises such as squats or lunges, doing pelvic floor exercises (also known as Kegel exercises), or doing prenatal Pilates.
Finally, some examples of stretching exercises include doing gentle stretches for your neck, shoulders, back, hips, legs, and feet. You can also do prenatal yoga poses that are safe for pregnancy.
Exercising safely during pregnancy can have numerous benefits for both you and your baby. By following the guidelines outlined above, you should be able to enjoy a healthy pregnancy while staying active. Good luck!