Is exercising while pregnant healthy?

Congratulations on your pregnancy, its now time to eat unashamedly, sit back, relax and put your feet up for the next 9 months right? Wrong pregnancy is no longer viewed as a time to relax and eat chocolate.

Beliefs and attitudes towards exercising while pregnant  have changed dramatically over the past decade. Maintaining, if not improving fitness levels during pregnancy is encouraged as exercising while pregnant boosts energy levels and mood which supports better sleep and increases stamina and muscle strength.

Maintaining a healthy body and weight during pregnancy reduces common complaints such as fatigue, back pain and constipation. Exercising while pregnant may even make labor easier.

If you had been participating in a regular exercise regime before getting pregnant and your pregnancy is healthy, there is no reason why you shouldn’t continue with your regime in moderation.  If you never exercised before getting pregnant, do not jump into it. Low intensity activity should be your starting point after which you can gradually increase your levels of activity as strength and endurance start to build.

The best types of exercises to perform while pregnant will;

  • Increase your heart rate steadily
  • Keep you flexible and limber
  • Support healthy weight gain
  • Prepare your muscles for child birth
  • Not cause strain on your body

Healthy pregnant women who exercise;

  • Lower their risk of gestational diabetes
  • Have a shorter labor process
  • Are less likely to need pain relief
  • Are more likely to have a natural birth
  • Have less risk of pre-term labor
  • Recover faster from childbirth

Research also suggests that moderate exercise while pregnant not only makes the mother healthier, but also gives the baby a healthier start. Studies show that developing babies of pregnant women who exercise have lower heart rates than those who don’t.  Babies of active moms also have lower birth weights and lower fat mass.

30 minutes a day of exercise are sufficient and experts say most exercises are safe during pregnancy, as long as its not overdone. The regimen you choose should be for strength and conditioning. Always warm up for 5 minutes and stretch for 5 minutes after you’ve exercised.

Common sense exercising while pregnant

  1. Avoid lying on your stomach or flat on your back after the first trimester
  2. Stay hydrated
  3. Stop if you start to feel cold or clammy, have difficulty walking or feel faint or dizzy
  4. Stop if you feel fatigued or experience any vaginal bleeding or contractions
  5. Avoid heavy weightlifting that may cause strain
  6. Avoid extremes of heat or cold as well as air pressure. Activities such as scuba diving or high altitude climbing should not be undertaken while pregnant.
  7. Eat small frequent meals

The safest most productive exercises during pregnancy

  • Swimming

Swimming is an ideal exercise during pregnancy as it poses little risk of injury, and no risk of falling on your abdomen and injuring your baby. Exercising in water gives you a better range of motion without putting pressure on your joints.

  • Brisk walking

If your pre-pregnancy exercise levels were very low, a quick stroll around the neighborhood is a great way to start. You will get a cardiovascular workout without too much impact on your knees and ankles, and you can do it almost anywhere and at any time throughout the entire 9 months.

  • Indoor stationary cycling

Cycling on a stationary bike is generally safe even if you are just starting an exercise program. Cycling helps to get your heart rate up without putting too much stress on your joints.

  • Prenantal yoga

Prenatal yoga classes keep your joints limber and help you maintain flexibility. Yoga strengthens your muscle system, stimulates blood circulation, and helps you relax, which may have benefits for managing blood pressure during pregnancy. You can also use techniques learnt in yoga class to help you stay calm and in control during the labor process.

Also, be careful not to overstretch. Pregnant women produce more relaxin, a hormone that increases flexibility and joint mobility, it is important to know your limits and hold back slightly when stretching.

  • Low impact aerobics

Low-impact aerobics excludes jumping, high kicks, leaps, or fast running. You keep one foot on the ground at all times, so you limit the amount of stress on your joints and maintain balance.

Never exercise to exhaustion while pregnant. If you cannot talk normally you are over exerting yourself.

Physical changes that affect the ability to exercise

Pregnancy creates extra demands on your body. While it may be hard to remember everything you should do or not do while pregnant, just remember to be attentive to discomfort and pain of any level and adjust the activity as necessary.

  • Your developing baby increases your oxygen and energy needs
  • Hormones produced during pregnancy cause the ligaments that support your joints to stretch. This increases the risk of injury to pregnant women
  • The extra weight gain and uneven distribution of it affects your center of gravity which may cause you to lose balance easier
  • The developing baby puts stress on the lower back and pelvic area as well as internal organs

If you have a pregnancy related condition such as;

  • low lying placenta previa
  • threatened or a history of miscarriage
  • weak cervix
  • vaginal bleeding

Talk to your health care provider before beginning any exercise program.

Regular exercise during pregnancy will keep you and your baby healthy and can make for an easier pregnancy and labor, and a timely recovery after delivery.


What’s your take on exercising while pregnant? Please share in the comments section



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