Is it safe to exercise during pregnancy?
Do you wish to continue work out even while pregnant?
Do you wish to start exercise during your pregnancy phase?
What kind of exercise is safe for the expecting mother?
When should I stop working out during pregnancy?
In this article we will discuss on how to continue or start exercise with a growing life inside your womb and also we will burst some of the common myths associated with exercise while carrying.
Can I exercise if I am pregnant?
The answer is YES.
Regular exercising helps you to stay healthy and at your best during pregnancy. It keeps you fit during pregnancy, prepares your body for delivery, relieves stress and also makes the transition from postpartum body to pre-pregnancy body easier.
You can continue exercise during your pregnancy if you are practiced to do it regularly since you were not pregnant. It is safe and beneficial to start mild to moderate exercise while pregnant.
11 Benefits of exercise during pregnancy:
If you exercise carefully, it is surely advantageous for you and your baby. It does not cause any harm to your baby, in turn pre-natal work out may help you in many ways as listed below.
#1. Healthy weight through out pregnancy
If you are keeping yourself active with mild to moderate exercises, you are likely to maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy.
#2. Lower risk of gestational diabetes
Exercising reduces the risk of gestational diabetes by 27%. Evidences show that exercising during pregnancy helps in keeping the gestational diabetes at low. Here are the 16 FAQ’s about gestational diabetes.
#3. Lesser mood swings/prenatal depression
Mood swings is common during pregnancy. Doing exercise triggers better mood. Doing meditation and yoga relaxes your body and helps to reduce stress.
Also you’re more likely to avoid prenatal depression. Even a little workout may leave you with the feeling of more energetic and fresh for rest of the day. Exercise may improve your self-esteem, help you get rid of depression and boost your confidence level.
#4. Avoids constipation
Exercising along with high fiber intake also improves your digestive system and prevents constipation, a common problem during pregnancy. You can read about the ways to reduce constipation during pregnancy.
#5. Lessen pregnancy symptoms
Researches show that women who exercise during pregnancy are less prone to morning sickness although for shorter duration after working out.
Want to know how to tackle morning sickness the easy way?
Another common problem during pregnancy is swelling in the legs, which can be reduced by exercising by improving blood flow in legs. Swimming is one exercise that helps with sore legs and foot and ankle swelling. It helps to relieve back pain too.
#6. Improves chances for a normal delivery
Careful stretches in prenatal yoga releases the hormone relaxin, pregnancy hormone, which loosens the pelvic joints preparing you for natural delivery.
You’re more likely to avoid forceps delivery, Caesarean section or other intervention if you work out during pregnancy. Also studies show that the active pregnant women are likely to have shorter labor than those who were inactive.
#7. Healthier baby
Researchers say that the mom who keeps her body healthy during pregnancy with regular exercise will have babies with healthier heart.
#8. Keeps blood pressure under control
Exercise keeps BP under control and thus lowers the chances of premature labors.
#9. Good for skin
You get brighter and glowing skin due to improved blood flow during exercise.
#10. Boosts immunity
It also boosts your immunity to certain extent.
#11. Back to pre pregnancy shape faster
If you are regular in doing exercise, you will bounce back faster after delivery. You would easily get into your pre pregnancy body shape. It also leaves long lasting impact, making you fitter and healthier even in middle age.
You can also read the 15 amazing ways to lose tummy fat post baby.
Myths/ Misconceptions Related To Exercise During Pregnancy
Although there are many benefits of exercising during pregnancy, there are many women who live with a few myths, which we need to get rid of. Let us burst some of these myths.
Myth 1 – It is not advisable to start the exercise during pregnancy if you were not exercising before the pregnancy
The truth is you can start working out anytime with proper guidance.
Myth 2- A pregnant woman in her regular exercise schedule needs to eat for two
Myth 3 – You should not perform abdominal exercises, as it may be harmful
Truth is you may do the exercise with a few changes, as your abdominal muscles are not as efficient as before pregnancy. Thus you need to ask the qualified trainer who can guide you on the types of abdominal stretches, which can be done during pregnancy.
Myth 4 – Pelvic floor exercise (kegels) may not be useful if you are planning Cesarean
Truth is the most of the pelvic floor damage occurs due to pregnancy and very little during delivery. Moreover, kegels still helps in urine incontinence issue in C-section.
Myth 5 – Exercise causes miscarriage
It is not true if you don’t overheat especially in first trimester and avoid undesirable conditions like exercising in hot climate, exercising till exhaustion and other conditions as mentioned above in Don’ts section.
Myth 6 – Pregnant women should not work out more than three times a week
The truth is, after doctor’s approval you may exercise for 30 minutes a day for 4 to 5 times a week.
Who should avoid pregnancy exercises?
Though exercise during pregnancy has its own benefits, if you are under certain conditions, it is better to avoid exercise while carrying.
Avoid exercise if you have weak or incompetent cervix, vaginal bleeding or spotting, high blood pressure, poorly controlled Type 1 diabetes and heart or lung diseases.
Exercise is not good if you are extremely underweight, have been diagnosed with placental pervia, intrauterine growth restriction in the current pregnancy, chronic bronchitis or have bleeding during second or third trimester.
Exercise during pregnancy for beginners:
Even if you have never exercised, it is a good time to get started after consulting with your doctor or fitness expert.
It is suggested by many gynecologists to start with 10 minutes moderate workout in case of beginners.
Walking and swimming are generally considered safe exercises for beginners in pregnancy. Increase the time span of exercise with slow pace until you reach 30 minutes of exercise a day.
Remember, pregnancy is not the time to exercise for losing weight or to burn extra calories. You do exercise to stay healthy and for healthy baby and delivery. Avoid working out vigorously and exercise for the duration of time which your body supports.
Don’t force your body to complete the 30 minutes span if you are exhausted. Stay cool and well hydrated by drinking fluids frequently while working out.
Read how to keep yourself hydrated with these 8 refreshing and healthy drinks during pregnancy.
See that you are able to talk comfortably even after exercising, then you are going the right way and if not, take precautions to minimize your exercise time duration.
Wondering what types of exercises can be done during pregnancy. Let us get the understanding of different kinds of workouts for pregnant women.
Types of exercises during pregnancy:
The main feature of ideal exercise during pregnancy is you can do it without causing physical stress. You can perform the aerobic exercise that is good for your heart and lungs. You should also work out muscle strengthening exercises, which helps you to improve your strength, flexibility and posture.
It is advised to talk to your doctor or physiotherapist before starting any new exercise. The different types of exercises that you can perform during pregnancy are mentioned below:
#1. Brisk walking
It is one of the safest exercises, which can be done in all trimesters. It gives your heart a workout. Get yourself a comfortable pair of shoes and brisk walk at least 30 minutes a day.
It is believed to be an ideal pregnancy exercise which exercises your legs and hands. It is also good for heart and lungs. Moreover, it gives a pregnant woman feeling of weightlessness despite of extra pregnancy weight. It is safe to do swimming throughout the pregnancy.
Pregnancy yoga helps to improve your posture and maintain muscle flexibility. While stretching, consider gentle movements instead of pushing yourself. It is better to follow a yoga instructor.
Enrolling yourself to prenatal yoga classes is the better option instead of starting with prenatal yoga DVDs.
#4. Weight training
Use lightweight for weight training which would tone and strengthen your muscles. Don’t go for fast and risky movements while doing weight training.
It is one of the exercises which relax your body and mind while working out.
You can get DVDs of your favorite tunes or join antenatal dance class run by qualified dance teacher. Dancing will give your heart pumping. Take precautions not to lose your balance. Avoid leaps, jumps, and twirls on safe grounds.
#6. Pelvic floor exercise
Pelvic floor exercise strengthens your pelvic muscles. Doing pelvic floor exercise everyday aids the weak pelvic muscles and thus prevents leakage of small volume of urine while you exercise, cough or sneeze.
Perform pilates with your pilate teacher guidance. It will strengthen your tummy and core muscles. It helps you to improve your posture.
Get your schedule for exercising which include most of the mentioned types within the approved time limit. Slow and steady routine of workout is surely advantageous for you.
While working out, you need to keep yourself in check for few alarming symptoms and take precautions for those.
Precautions while doing prenatal exercises:
There are a few precautions that I would like to mention as dos and don’ts to keep you on safe side while exercising during pregnant.
- Inculcate good activity habits in your routine. Like, doing the households yourself, taking stairs instead of lift etc.
- Consult your doctor before starting a new exercise during pregnancy to know whether it is safe or not
- Choose comfortable clothes to work out
- Select shoes that are designed for the type of exercise you do
- Work out on a flat surface to cut the risks of falling or slipping down
- Exercise only after at least two hours post your meals
- Drink water and other fluids to avoid dehydration
- Mild to moderate exercise is best, but stop immediately when you start feeling exhausted.
- Exercise in well-ventilated areas but not in hot or humid conditions
- Don’t overdo. Know your limits. Remember that you are pregnant and caring for you and your baby is the prime criteria for you.
- Once you reach third trimester, avoid lying on your back or standing, sitting at one place for too long. These all activities may result into poor blood flow to your baby.Avoid the sports that are risky and may cause accidents
- Although cycling is safe during pregnancy, you may like to avoid it due to risk of losing balance or falling down. Instead go for stationary bike.
- Avoid the area where children play contact sports as you may be hit in your stomach
- Never work out to the point of exhaustion even if it is within very less time of work out. Don’t overdo. It is better to take rest or skip exercise if your body is not supporting that. You can always get the modified or other form of that exercise to benefit yourself.
- Avoid the activities which demand holding your breath
- Avoid jumping, skipping, hopping etc
- Avoid the exercises which require you to lie on your back as it may affect your spine
- Don’t exercise in hot, humid weather
You can also refer to the dos and don’t of pregnancy.
When should I stop exercise?
In addition to the above-mentioned precautions, you should keep yourself in check for few symptoms. If you observe any of these symptoms, stop exercising immediately and consult your doctor.
- Feeling faint
- Vaginal bleeding
- Contractions (preterm labor)
- Fluid leaking from your vagina
- Rapid heartbeat while at rest
- Chest, leg, joint or stomach pain
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty walking
- Keep a check on your baby’s movements. If they slow down or stop, take a break. Talk to your doctor.
- Don’t forget to take approval from your doctor or physiotherapist and set your pregnancy workout plan. It is better to exercise under professional guidance and care if you stay alone to prevent any risks or accidents.
- So get yourself educated about the right things before you start working out.
Hope this article on exercise during pregnancy was informative and useful. So what are you waiting for?
“You become what you want to become consistently, so be fit and do exercise.”
Good luck and good wishes to the ladies there.