Exercise During Pregnancy
Though you may not always feel like doing it, exercise during pregnancy is an important habit to get into. In fact, maintaining your health through exercise can be just as beneficial as following a nutritious pregnancy diet. Exercise can do so much for our bodies, like boosting our energy, increasing our muscle tone, and helping us to maintain a healthy weight. During pregnancy, exercise has the added benefit of relieving stress and helping you to manage those pregnancy symptoms.
A New Discovery
The advantage of engaging in exercise during pregnancy is actually a pretty new discovery. It wasn't long ago when pregnant women were forced to remain off their feet, unable to do much of anything for nine months. Your may remember stories about your mother, aunts, or grandmothers having to give up work, sports, and other activities during their pregnancies. Luckily, researchers have now discovered that exercise is actually much better for pregnant women than sitting around all day is (although many pregnant women may disagree).
The Benefits of Exercise
Most of us have heard, time and time again, about the benefits of exercise. Exercise can make you feel better, look better, and live longer. Exercise can help you to strengthen your muscles, manage your stress, and maintain your weight. But what help can exercise be during pregnancy?
Well, pregnancy exercise actually gives you all the benefits of regular exercise plus a little bit more. It can help you to manage all of those little things that come along with pregnancy, like nausea, weight gain, and stiff muscles. It can also increase your stamina, helping to prepare you for labor and delivery. Just 30 minutes of moderate exercise, three times a week, can do wonders, including:
- help balance your hormones
- lessen your morning sickness
- improve your constipation
- relieve stress
- prevent or manage gestational diabetes
Before You Exercise
Before you even put a foot into those running shoes, there are a few things that you have to do first.
Consult Your Health Care Provider: Before you start your yoga exercises or begin power walking around the block, talk to your health care provider. She will make sure that it is safe for you to start an exercise routine. Sometimes, pregnant women can suffer from conditions that make exercise very dangerous. You don't want to put you or your baby's health at any risk.
Consider Past Exercise Routines: Before you choose an activity to do, take into consideration how much exercise you have done in the past. Did you work out a lot or were you more of a couch potato? If you haven't exercised in years, then you should definitely start out slowly. Begin with just five minutes a day of slow walking. Gradually work up to 30 minutes, adding five minutes of exercise each week. If you are used to exercising, it is still important to take things relatively slow. Your body may not be use to the extra weight it's holding or the amount of energy you now require to get moving.
Keep Your Body in Mind: Remind yourself of all the changes that your body will be going through during these nine months. Don't expect to go out and run a marathon or try out for the Olympics. You are pregnant and this is going to take a toll on your energy and stamina. So don't overdo it.
Choosing an Activity
The key to enjoying exercise during pregnancy is in choosing a fun activity. There are a wide variety of great activities that you can get involved in that are fun but won't put too much strain on your muscles or heart. Focus on low-impact activities, which will get your blood pumping but won't put excess strain on your body. Avoid any contact sports; now is not the time to take up downhill skiing or wrestling and beware of any activities in which you may get hit in the stomach.
Aerobics are designed to increase your heart rate and pump oxygen and nutrients throughout your body. Aerobic activities are anything that make you move consistently and constantly. Some great low impact activities during pregnancy include:
- water exercises and aerobics
- stationary cycling
Yoga and Pilates
Yoga and Pilates are rapidly becoming the "in thing" for moms-to-be and are great for your physical and mental health. Pilates exercises combine strength training with unique breathing and posture techniques, for that total-body workout, while Yoga uses stretching and breathing techniques to tone your body while calming your mind. However, not all Yoga and Pilates exercises are safe for pregnant women. Look for a prenatal Yoga or Pilates class in your area, where the classes are tailored to pregnant moms.
Kegels are the ultimate pregnancy exercise and they are so easy to do. You don't even need to stand up to do them. Kegel exercises help to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which tend to loosen after labor. This can lead to incontinence and other complications. All you need to do is squeeze your pelvic muscles for a few minutes everyday.
For more information on exercise and your pregnancy check out our pregnancy videos.