Maintaining a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy can offer many benefits for you and your baby. Unless you have a medical condition that stops you, it is highly recommended to exercise during pregnancy. You and your health care provider can work together to help you understand what is safe and helpful, depending on your current fitness level and pregnancy.
Exercising during pregnancy is a good idea for most healthy pregnant women. Your body is designed to move and works most efficiently when you move often. It doesn’t have to be anything strenuous, but you can help give your baby’s health a boost by adding in some exercise throughout your pregnancy.
Main Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy
Regular physical activity and exercise have been proven as a great way to keep your entire body and energy level up during pregnancy.
Some of the main benefits include
- Increased blood flow and circulation
- Can reduce low back pain
- Helps to ward off excessive weight gain
- Can lower your risk of gestational diabetes
- Offers a sense of control during a time when you feel like you don’t have very much in your hands
- Helps alleviate high blood pressure and can help lower your risk of gestational hypertension
- Can you help you to remain active going into your postpartum period, which can help ward off issues with postpartum depression, anxiety, and other stressors
There are a few benefits and guidelines you can follow that show exercises with little risk of injury but big opportunities for you to give yourself a boost throughout your pregnancy.
Types of Exercises That Are Most Beneficial
For the most part, finding low impact exercises such as brisk walking and prenatal yoga are good choices to work on building your fitness routine.
A few prenatal exercises that would be great to add in 3-5 days of the week are
- Pregnancy exercise classes
- Muscle strengthening exercises
- Low-impact aerobics
You can also try out some postpartum exercise programs that are designed specifically for women going through pregnancy and postpartum periods. If you are wanting a more specific plan for your body and your pregnancy, reach out to a pelvic floor physical therapist for more exercises you can use to strengthen your glutes, hips, and pelvic floor throughout your pregnancy and postpartum stages.
Risks of Exercise During Pregnancy
Just as exercise can have benefits, there are a few extra risks that can occur when you are carrying a baby, and you will want to keep those in mind and also discuss any concerns with your primary care doctor.
A few common risks that you want to avoid include
- Getting your heart rate up too high
- High-impact activities that involve a lot of waist-twisting movements in your abdominal muscles
- Exercising in extreme heat, humidity, or high altitude
- Contact sports
- Becoming dehydrated
You also want to keep in mind any personal pregnancy complications and warning signs. Being aware of your body and knowing when to slow down are two of the most important factors while incorporating exercise into your pregnancy. This is not a time to have the mentality that you should push your body beyond pain or discomfort.
As a general rule of thumb, you can continue any type of exercise outside of contact sports and other dangerous activities that you did before you were pregnant throughout the term of your pregnancy. If you enjoyed HIIT workouts or pilates before, you can continue those. You just want to be a bit more aware of your heart rate and how you’re feeling overall. This is not the best time to try new complicated moves or try and max out your PR. Just a time to maintain strength while you build another human!
If you weren’t active before your pregnancy but understand there are a variety of benefits to exercising during pregnancy, you can most certainly begin an exercise routine and reap some of the benefits! Just start small, even 5 minutes a day of taking an outside walk, and you will be working to improve your life as well as the life of your little nugget growing inside your belly!
You can also begin finding support from other moms that can be beneficial in enjoying your pregnancy while you work on finding exercises that work for you and your body.
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