Normal pregnancy symptoms include swollen ankles, insomnia, bloating and even constipation. Wondering how to minimise the aches and pains during this life-changing process? Your answer is exercise! Whether you are a regular gym-goer or a couch potato, a little exercise can help! Exercise can improve your mood and decrease fatigue, constipation, morning sickness. It can even help with a speedy postpartum recovery.
Before you start hitting the gym, see our guidelines on exercising during pregnancy.
Is it safe to exercise during pregnancy?
Exercising during pregnancy is perfectly safe and is often recommended. This is especially true for women that were regularly active before this conception. Most medical practitioners advise that physically active people remain active provided that you are comfortable and there are no other health conditions suggesting to be aware of. The risks of moderate-intensity activity during pregnancy are very low. And they do not increase the risk of low birth weight, pre-term delivery, or early pregnancy loss.
If you weren’t active before pregnancy you can still introduce some moderate exercise. Be mindful of your limits and avoid overexerting yourself. Exercise doesn’t need to be strenuous to be beneficial. Remember, that this is not the time to exercise to lose weight. Instead, do it with the intention of being healthy for you and your baby.
It’s always best to seek medical help if you’re unsure about anything during your pregnancy. Get the ‘go-ahead’ from your doctor before doing anything strenuous, especially with any new physical activities.
Did you know: Some studies have found that working out may reduce women’s risk of complications such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes.
The benefits of exercising during pregnancy?
Try working out at least 30 minutes on most days. If you can’t manage that then do as much as you can! The important thing is to keep active and get your blood flowing. Exercise can also help you feel in better health by boosting your energy levels. It can also help your sense of control during this life-changing time. Your body is going through new changes, so some extra energy and control is a welcome positive.
Surecheck tip: Start by planning your days and schedule time for exercise during the week.
Working out can help relieve physical tensions like backache and bad posture through strengthening and toning muscles in your back, butt and thighs. As your body prepares for childbirth and goes through hormonal changes, it slowly begins loosening your joints. Regular exercise can prevent wear and tear by activating lubricating fluid. This physical activity could even reduce pregnancy constipation due to the movement in your intestines.
Regular exercise also helps your mood by releasing endorphins. It’s very common for women to feel stressed during pregnancy due to the many changes both physically and mentally. Keeping active can actually reduce these worries by expelling ‘feel-good hormones’.
A good workout routine also prepares your body for birth. Strong muscles and a healthy heart can actually assist with labour and delivery. What’s more, gaining control over your breathing can help you cope with pain during labour and increase endurance.
Another benefit of a pregnancy exercise routine is that it helps you regain your pre-pregnancy body more quickly! This is because you’ll gain less weight than women who do not exercise during pregnancy. Exercise can also help you develop better muscle memory and form some healthy habits you can continue post-delivery. However, don’t expect to lose weight now. Your goal should be to maintain fitness and keep you and baby healthy.
The Best Exercises During Pregnancy
A pregnancy exercise program should strengthen and condition your muscles. Always begin by warming up for 5 minutes and stretching for 5 minutes. Try to include at least 15 minutes of cardiovascular activity, followed by 5 to 10 minutes of slower aerobic activity. And remember to always end with stretching!
The best exercises include dancing, swimming, water aerobics, yoga, pilates and walking. Swimming gives you buoyancy which alleviates the strain on your body. Try out a combination of cardio, strengthening and flexibility exercises for a well-rounded routine.
If you don’t have access to a pool then try taking a walk. If you’re new to walking for exercise, start with a moderately brisk pace at least 3 days a week. Thereafter, consider picking up the pace and adding an extra few minutes every time. If you were a runner before you were pregnant, you may be able to continue running during your pregnancy. However, you’ll probably need to take it a little easier than your usual routine.
And finally, always remember to listen to your body. Your energy levels may vary from day-to-day and as your baby grows your body’s limits and abilities will change. If your body needs you to slow down, then listen!