Back in the day, the false belief that pregnant women should not exercise at all was widespread. Today, we know that the right kind of exercise is great for mom and baby. While you probably shouldn’t try to run a marathon, regular exercise is sure to have a number of benefits.
You’ll feel better. Exercise boosts your energy levels and getting a few ‘feel-good’ endorphins into circulation will compound the effect. Those nasty pregnancy backaches can be relieved with the help of exercise that strengthens your muscles and improves you posture. Constipated? Get moving! Exercise will get your bowels moving too. Your joints are under strain during pregnancy, but exercise gets the joints lubed up and ready to cope with the stresses and strains of pregnancy. Last but not least, there’s nothing like some good exercise to help you in getting a good night’s sleep.
Of course, overall physical fitness is also going to stand you in good stead during the birth process. Sometimes, childbirth becomes a marathon of a different sort, and the stronger you are, the better you’ll be able to cope with it. What’s more, it will be easier to recover that pre-baby body if your muscles are already well-toned.
How does pregnancy affect the type of exercise you should do?
That depends on the pregnancy: if you’re experiencing complications, it would be wisest to consult your doctor regarding the types of exercise you can try. If you’re healthy and used to exercise before you became pregnant, you may only need a few minor changes to your exercise program. If you didn’t work out before you got pregnant, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t start now. Don’t overtax your body, but aim to get the 2 ½ hours of exercise that’s recommended by the US Department of Health every week.
Obviously, the first person you should discuss this with is your doctor or obstetrician. He or she will be familiar with your case and any previous health concerns and can make recommendations accordingly.
Simple exercise do’s and don’ts
Don’t exercise until you’re out of breath and don’t overheat. What you need is moderate intensity exercise. Try and avoid exercises that cause a lot of bouncing but feel free to include light aerobic exercises, flexibility exercises such as yoga, and strength exercises using light weights or body weight.
Swimming and walking are popular exercises for pregnant women. If you’re just starting out, don’t push yourself too hard. If your body begins to feel uncomfortable, you should take a rest immediately. If you were a keen runner before you fell pregnant and wish to continue with running, discuss your training routine with your doctor and pair it with a healthy diet.
Listen to your body. If it doesn’t want to do something, don’t force it to. Whereas you might push on through periods of discomfort when training pre-pregnancy, that will have to change for the time being.
Anything that jars or bounces the body around too much should be avoided and be careful of any exercise that may lead to falls or abdominal injuries.