Exercising during pregnancy has great benefits – it can help prepare for labor, boost your energy, soothe pregnancy aches and pains, and help your body bounce back faster after childbirth. While most women know that exercise during pregnancy is safe, there are still a lot of questions floating around about what you can and can’t do. Is it okay to do crunches? How low should my heart rate be? Can I still run?
A good rule of thumb is to check with your healthcare provider first, and use your pre-pregnancy exercise routine as a guideline. If you exercised regularly before pregnancy and your pregnancy is uncomplicated, you can most likely continue working out as before, with some modifications. If you didn’t work out often before pregnancy, you can definitely start now, but start off small, like a 15-20 minute walk.
Exercising doesn’t have to be an intense, uncomfortable experience. Swimming a couple laps in the pool or walking around your neighborhood can still provide amazing health benefits. All that matters is that you’re moving.
Here are some of the benefits of exercising during pregnancy:
Prevents back pain: Two-thirds of women experience back pain during pregnancy, but water workouts, yoga, and pelvic tilts can relieve this discomfort. Exercising during the second half of pregnancy seems to be especially effective.
Boosts energy: Exercise strengthens your cardiovascular system, so you don’t feel tired as easily. Pregnancy can sap your energy, but regular exercise will strengthen your muscles so you’ll need less effort to engage in daily activities.
Prepares for an easier labor: Moms who exercise tend to have shorter labors and are less likely to need medical intervention during labor, including C-sections.
Improves quality of sleep: Many pregnant women say that they have a harder time falling asleep, and staying asleep. Those who exercise consistently report their quality of sleep is better and they wake up feeling more rested.
Speeds postpartum recovery: The more you exercise during pregnancy, the faster you’ll recover physically after childbirth. Moms who exercise are more likely to socialize and enjoy new hobbies and entertainment post-baby.
Protects against gestational diabetes: Exercise may prevent this common problem, and the American Diabetes Association recommends moderate exercise as an effective prevention for women who are at risk. In fact, exercising can lower your risk for gestational diabetes by as much as 27%.
Now, you may be wondering what kind of exercise is best. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, pregnant women can participate in 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise everyday. The safest workouts are low impact – they are gentle on the joints and the body.
Here are three great workouts for expecting moms:
Walking: Taking a stroll is safe throughout all nine months of pregnancy, and is gentle on your knees and ankles.
Swimming: Swimming may be the best and safest exercise for pregnant women. It’s ideal because it works large muscle groups, like arms and legs, provides cardiovascular benefits, and allows moms-to-be feel weightless.
Yoga: Prenatal yoga classes help maintain flexibility and keep your joints limber. It’ll strengthen your muscles, improve circulation, and help you relax.
For the majority of women, exercising during pregnancy is perfectly safe and offers powerful health benefits. It can be a great way to meet other expectant moms and form friendships – walking around and catching up with a friend may not even feel like working out! Or, get creative – put on your favorite music and dance around the house while cooking or doing chores. Exercise doesn’t have to be boring!
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