Pregnancy is a challenging and rewarding experience at the same time. To counter the obstacles, exercise is a must. While many people mistakenly believe pregnancy is not the right time to exercise, the truth is quite the opposite.
Consistent exercise at the time of pregnancy improves health, lowers the likelihood of excessive weight gain and even counters back pain. Ultimate delivery is easier
Moderate exercising at the time of pregnancy can give newborns a healthier start.
Exercise during any time can boost heart health along with stamina/ It also reduces fatigue and wards off poor digestion or constipation. Additionally, exercise boosts mood plus energy levels, improves bone and muscle strength, and even enhances sleep. Exercise during pregnancy to get the same benefits.
Discuss changes in exercise regimens with your professional health care provider to ensure the right type of exercise at the correct stage of your pregnancy.
Exercise During Pregnancy: Learn All About the Benefits
Table of Contents
Exercising during pregnancy offers plenty of benefits:
- Exercising reduces the chance of excessive weight gain during pregnancy.
- It also resolves back issues, preparing the muscles for giving birth, and it can impact the health of your baby positively, too.
- Those who don’t follow exercise routines to start with should ease into the sessions.
- Exercise is vital however it must be low-impact.
- It is also vital to be clear about when to stop.
- Swimming, yoga, brisk walking, along with stationary cycling are excellent ways to get or stay fit when pregnant.
Top Exercises for Pregnant Women
Yoga is a wonderful way to improve your flexibility when you are pregnant.
Suitable activities at the time of pregnancy range across brisk walking, indoor stationary cycling, swimming, prenatal yoga, as well as low-impact aerobics, under the guidance of certified aerobics instructors.
Certain special exercises can prepare your body for labor.
These exercises that are safe for women benefit the entire body, and they persist until delivery. Positive effects of these exercises can be felt even beyond that.
#1 Brisk walking
If exercise prior to your pregnancy exercise was at a low or non-existent level, quick strolls around the neighborhood are a wonderful way to start exercising.
The benefit of walking is that your body gets a cardiovascular workout in the absence of impact on the knees or ankles. This can be carried out without spending a single penny, anywhere at any time during your pregnancy.
However, as pregnancy advances, do remember that your center of gravity shifts s, and you can miss out on your sense of balance or coordination.
Choose to walk on even surfaces, avoid bumpy potholes, rocky areas, and heights. Also, make sure you wear supportive shoes and footwear that offers maximal comfort.
This is an exercise which works out every muscle in your body. But what makes it especially beneficial for pregnant women is the low impact. Swimming and or water games give a wider range of motion in the absence of joint pressure. Water offers a buoyancy that gives additional relief from all the extra weight.
Swimming, even treading water, or aqua aerobics is beneficial throughout your pregnancy.
But do make sure you swim in a stroke that feels comfortable. Don’t opt for swimming styles that strain or pain your neck, back muscles or shoulders, like the complicated breaststroke. A kickboard can strengthen the leg and glutes as well.
When in the water, always have the support of a railing for balancing while entering into the water. This can prevent you from slipping.
Don’t dive or jump, however, for the abs could be impacted.
Overheating is a no-no during pregnancy. So avoid warm pools, saunas, hot tubs, and steam rooms.
#3 On the Spot/Stationary cycling
Riding a bike that’s stationary is also referred to as spinning. It is mostly safe especially for those exercising for the first time. An added advantage? It serves to raise the heart rate and does not put excess stress on your joints.
The bike supports body weight, and, as it is stationary, the chance of falling down is slim to none.
As pregnancy progresses, higher handlebars may be comfortable.
For balance, peace, and tranquility, nothing beats yoga.
Prenatal yoga maintains the suppleness of joints and gives your body flexibility.
Yoga further strengthens the muscles, stimulates blood flow, and boosts relaxation. It contributes to healthy blood pressure rates at the time of pregnancy.
The yoga techniques a class can teach you also help you to remain calm and well in control at the time of labor.
When pregnancy progresses, however, don’t go for postures that upset your balance.
From the 2nd semester, take care to avoid poses that focus on lying on the abs or flat on your back.
Lying on your back causes the fetal weight along with your uterus to put excess pressure on all your major arteries and veins. This constricts and decreases blood flow to your heart.
Too much of an overstretch can be tempting. This is because the hormone relaxin raises flexibility as well as joint mobility at the time of pregnancy. Therefore, overstretching could trigger an injury.
#5 Low-impact cardio aerobics
Aerobic cardio exercise boosts the heart health and focuses on the lungs to help maintain good muscle tone. Performing low-impact aerobics ranges across exercising gently, with regular and rhythmic movements., For this type of aerobics, one foot remains on the floor every time.
So, how does the low-impact option affect your body? For one, it limits stress on your joints. Secondly, it helps to maintain your sense of balance. Finally, it prevents pelvic muscles from weakening, which is a major advantage for pregnant ladies. How so? Well, a weak pelvic floor muscle raises the likelihood of urine leaking.
Specific aerobics classes are specially designed for pregnant ladies. This is a wonderful way to form a community with other expectant mothers besides exercising with a training instructor who can guide you safely through the exercise routine.
Those who perform regular aerobic exercise need to inform their trainer about being pregnant so instructors can modify the cardio exercises and offer advice about suitable movements.
#6 Pelvic Tilts & Squats
According to the American Pregnancy Association, certain exercises designed specifically for pregnancy can help to prepare the body for prompt labor and quick delivery.
To open the pelvis, the mild pelvic squat can help during labor. For this, you need to stand flat on your feet, with legs shoulder-width spread, and the back straightened.
Then, slowly lower yourself with your feet flat and the knees not going beyond your feet.
Hold this pose for ten to thirty seconds, and then slowly straighten up.
Pelvic tilts further boost the abdominal muscles strength and serve to reduce the back pain.
- To perform this exercise, support your body on your hands and your knees.
- Tilting the hips in a forward direction, pull your abs in, so the back arches.
- Hold this pose for a couple of seconds.
- Release your body from the position, and allow the back to drop
- Do 10 light reps for easy labor and delivery, under medical supervision.
Pelvic floor and tilt exercises help to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles of the pelvic floor, which comprise layers of muscles stretching like a supportive hammock from pubes to the backbone.
#7 Exercises to Strengthen The Stomach
The hollow in the lower back increases as pregnancy advances and the baby gets bigger. This can trigger a backache. So, use these to strengthen stomach (ab) muscles and ease your backache.:
- Sit on all fours with knees beneath hips, hands underneath shoulders, and fingers facing forward and abs lifted to ensure your back remains straight.
- Pull in the stomach muscles. Then raise your back up facing the ceiling, curling your trunk and permitting your head to relax forward gently.
- However, don’t lock your elbows
- Hold for just a couple of seconds then gradually return to the start posture.
- Never hollow your back; remember that should return to a straight or even a neutral position.
- Perform this exercise slowly as well as rhythmically 10x times, ensuring muscles move and your back gets circulation.
Make sure you move comfortably. Don’t push yourself.
#8 Best Cardio Exercises
All cardio exercises raise blood circulation, improve stamina and muscle tone. For quicker post-delivery recovery, opt for walking and light cardio. Swimming or water aerobics can relieve nausea, sciatica, and puffed ankles.
Low-impact aerobics and dance classes like light Zumba are excellent for increasing your heart rate and boosting endorphins flowing
Indoor cycling is another safe bet, with no chance of falling or putting pressure on your joints.
Light pilates with restricted movements under trained supervision can ease backaches, improve flexibility and boost your posture. Class tailored specifically to pregnant ladies is beneficial.
This is a combination of Pilates, yoga plus ballet-inspired moves. It is excellent for pregnant women because you are strengthening the lower body and core while avoiding much jumping. This also involves balance exercises keeping you stable as the baby bump emerges.
#11 Tai Chi
This ancient Asian meditation form involves slow, gentle movements that allow those with even low flexibility to strengthen the body without risks of injury Be sure to only try Tai Chi if you are an experienced practitioner.
Exercise During Pregnancy: What You Need to Know
Exercise while pregnant greatly benefit you and your child.
At the time of pregnancy, exercises should aim to achieve the following benefits: :
- Increase your heart rate gradually and steadily
- Improve blood flow and circulation
- Maintain the body’s flexibility and strength
- Support the body and focus on healthy weight gain
- Build your muscles for labor as well as birth
Exercising while pregnant helps in the following ways:
- Speed up the labor process raise chances of a natural childbirth
- Lower the need for pain relief
- Speed up recovery post delivery
- Reduce the likelihood of gestational diabetes or hypertension
- Decrease the chances of preterm birth or labor.
Give your infant a stronger and healthier start.
Studies reveal when pregnant ladies exercise, the fetal heart rate is stable and lower. Newborns can have healthier birth weight, besides lower fat mass, and improved tolerance for stress, besides advanced neuro-behavioral development and maturation.
Women exercising regularly prior to pregnancy, who are presently healthy easily be able to carry on exercising much like before, with some changes based on the trimester.
Women that have forgone exercising prior to pregnancy also benefit from a low-intensity program, gradually moving up the activity ladder.
US health authorities recommend that adults should perform a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercises per week, including at the time of pregnancy and within the first year post delivery.
Recommended exercises are safe during pregnancy if performed with caution and supervised by trained practitioners.
Physical changes that occur at the time of pregnancy build extra demands on your body, exercising with care is important.
Always begin your exercise routine by warming up for about 5 minutes besides stretching for another 5 minutes
You can also finish with anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes of steadily slower exercises and end with some gentle stretching.
Some useful tips to follow include these:
- Wear comfortable, loose-fitting, clothes, and a support inner-wear that is adjusted to the contours of your body.
- Select supportive footwear specifically designed for the exercise you choose to perform the exercise on flat, even level surface to avert injury. Eat frequent, small meals across the day. Additionally, do not exercise for a minimum of 1-hour post eating.
- Drink adequate water before, at the time of and following exercise, to remain hydrated.
- Getting up slowly and steadying yourself gradually is essential to avoid di
Be aware that your body needs adequate oxygen as well as energy at the time of pregnancy.
Hormones like relaxin, secreted during pregnancy, can lead to ligaments supporting the joints for stretching, raising the chance of injury. Your changing weight shifts the focus of gravity, thereby placing additional strain on the muscles and joints within your lower back and pelvic region. This serves to increase the chance of balance loss.
Do take care you do not end up overheating yourself. To avert this, never exercise in high humidity. Do not attempt heavy weightlifting or activities that require physical training because it is not good for the child or you. Avoid exposure to air pressure variance and high altitude exercises like trekking or underwater scuba diving.
Don’t go for activities which increase the chance of abdominal trauma.
Make it a point not to exercise till exhaustion sets in. For those who cannot talk while exercising, slowing down the activity is important.
Women exercising intensely, such as jogging prior to their pregnancy may have to tone down the intensity of exercise once the pregnancy takes place. Bodily changes can also take place during this time, so do take care.
While exercise is not generally harmful, pregnant women with medical conditions, such as heart disease, asthma, hypertension, pregnancy or diabetes should speak to health care providers first.
Stop exercising if you notice vaginal bleeding or spotting
For women with low placenta, or a condition called low-lying placenta previa, exercise is not allowed.
Women with a history or danger of miscarriage or preterm/early delivery or those with a weak cervix should also give exercise a miss.
Don’t exercise if you feel fatigued or develop persistent pain.
Stop all exercise if you experience vaginal bleeding
Those with regular contractions spaced more than30 minutes post the exercise should be alert to a sign of pre-term labor.
Based on your medical history, your doctor can guide you best in terms of which exercises would suit you.
- Stop if you experience pain. This includes abs, chest, or even pelvic pain watch out for muscle cramps
- Stop if you feel dizzy, faint or nauseous Don’t exercise if you’re feeling cold or clammy
- Avoid all exercise if there’s fluid from the vagina or a trickle steadily leaking. Leakage could indicate an amniotic membrane rupture.
- Watch out for irregular or even rapid heartbeat. Stop immediately if ankles, face, hands, or all of these body parts swell up
- Don’t exercise if you experience shortness of breath or experience persistent contractions or difficulty walking.
Bear in mind that staying safe during exercise is vital. Regular exercise does boost mother and baby health, however, It can facilitate pregnancy, labor, as well as post-delivery recovery. A regular exercise routine for you during pregnancy can enable you to remain healthy and feel you’re very best. Regular exercises at the time of pregnancy improve posture and prevent some common discomforts like backaches or fatigue. Evidence also indicates that exercise can prevent gestational diabetes common during pregnancy in some cases. It can also, relieve stress and build additional stamina required for labor or delivery.
For those active even before pregnancy, exercising during pregnancy won’t be an issue. However, avoid trying to exercise at the pre-pregnancy levels Opt for what is comfortable right now. Low or zero impact aerobics is advisable.
While pregnant, competitive athletes should always be under the care of an obstetrician.
Those who were physically inactive before pregnancy can safely begin exercise programs at the time of pregnancy post consultation with a health care provider. However, don’t try new, strenuous activities. Walking is safe when pregnant.
America’s College of Obstetrics & Gynecology advises30 minutes or even greater of moderate intensity exercise every day during most of the week unless you suffer from medical conditions or pregnancy-based complications.
Those with medical problems, such as asthma, even heart disease, or lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, should not exercise. Exercise also harms women facing bleeding or spotting, low placenta, and recurrent miscarriage.
While most exercises are considered safe during pregnancy, here’s what you can and cannot do.
What’s Safe and What’s Not?
The safest, most productive activities include brisk walking, swimming, indoor based stationary cycling, elliptical or step machines, as well as low-impact aerobics by certified aerobics trainers. These activities benefit the body, don’t carry many risks and can be safely performed right up till childbirth, according to experts.
Tennis badminton or racquetball though generally safe activities can be tough. This is because of shifts in the center of gravity during pregnancy which may then impact rapid movements. Other specific activities such as jogging should be replaced by walking. Opt for exercises that do not need great balance or excessive coordination, especially in later phases of pregnancy.
To build strength and follow toning exercises safe to do at the time of pregnancy, always follow medical instructions.
Exercises Considered Unsafe During Pregnancy
Certain types of exercises can damage your health and impact your child during pregnancy. This includes breath holding activities like breathing exercises. Additionally, it is not recommended to opt for sports where you can be injured like skiing or horse riding. Even contact sports like softball, basketball, football, and volleyball should be given wide berth. Don’t do any exercise that may cause even the mildest abdominal trauma besides activities such as jarring motions or even rapid changes in direction.
Activities that need extensive leaping or jumping, any type of running, hopping, skipping, or bouncing must not be performed.
Do not attempt deep knee bends, full or complete sit-ups, extended or simple double leg raises and exerting through straight-leg type toe touches.
Avoid Bouncing even while stretching. Waist-twisting movements while stationary.
Exercising in hot, humid weather or long periods of inactivity with spurts of heavy exercise is not recommended either.
What Should a Pregnancy Exercises & Programs Comprise?
For complete fitness, exercise programs during pregnancy should be strengthening and conditioning your muscles.
Begin by warming up for at least 5 minutes and stretching for an additional 5 minutes. Include a minimum of fifteen minutes of cardio activity. Measure the heart rate during times of peak activities. Following aerobic activities with 5 to 10 minutes of slower exercise gradually, and ending with gentle stretching is absolutely essential.
Always consume adequate calories to meet the needs of your body, especially while exercising during pregnancy. You need 300 additional calories per day. Finish eating one hour prior to exercise. Also, ensure you drink water at all times and stay well hydrated. Move gently and never exert while exercising during pregnancy.
How Pregnancy Changes May Impact Exercise?
Physical or bodily changes at the time of pregnancy lead to extra demands on the body. Keeping the changes in mind, always listen to the body and keep adjusting activities and exercise routines as required.
Your growing baby and other internal bodily changes need additional oxygen plus energy.
Hormonesgenerated during pregnancy can relax the body too much and increase chances of injury due to loss of balance.
Extra, uneven weight gain also shifts the focus of gravity, making it easier to lose balance and putting stress on muscles and joints in the pelvic areas and lower back.
When To Consult Your Doctor
When you feel any of the following while exercising, be sure to consult your doctor:
- Strong chest pain.Excessive abdominal pain, strong pelvic pain, or persistent contractions.A headache.
- Absence or decrease in fetal kicking or other movements.
- Feel faint, giddy, nauseous, or even light-headed.
- Feel cold or very clammy.
- Having vaginal bleeding
- Fluid release from the vagina or a fluid trickles that leak steadily.
- Cardiac arrhythmia or abnormal heart beat
- Inflammation of ankles, hands, face, or additional calf pain.
- Shortness of breath
- Facing difficulty walking.
- Having muscle weakness.
Exercising After Delivery
Always check with your health care provider regarding how soon one can begin their exercise routine after childbirth.
While everyone wants to get rid of the fat that has piled on, make sure you don’t rush into pre-pregnancy fitness routines. Follow the doctor’s exercise recommendations.
Most mothers can safely do low-impact activities within a couple of weeks after normal or vaginal birth. It’s double that time after a cesarean birth. Always do 50% of your exercise routine; don’t overdo it.
It pays off to be sensible about the level of exercise you carry out. Consult doctors, physiotherapists or healthcare professionals to ensure your exercise routine does not harm you or your baby. If pregnancy has been complicated like multiple births, preterm baby, high BP, heart disease, risk of premature birth, pre-eclampsia, or more, it helps to talk to a doctor.
Exercising While Pregnant
Don’t exhaust your body and always focus on a light to a moderate exercise routine. your pregnancy progresses or if the maternity team recommends it If in doubt, consult the doctor or medical team. Light to moderate levels of exercise should permit you to hold conversations as you exercise while pregnant. If breathlessness is experienced as you talk, you need to slow down the pace.
Don’t opt for strenuous exercise, more so if you weren’t active before. Once you start a prenatal aerobic exercise program, tell the trainer that you’re expecting and build up not more than 15 minutes of continuous exercise routines thrice per week. Increase this steadily to 5 thirty-minute sessions per week.
- Always remember exercise does not mean exertion or exhaustion.
- Always warm up cool down before and after respectively, when exercising.
- Remain active every day.
- Note that 30 minutes of walking every day are enough, but if there’s no way you can manage that, some exercise is better than none.
- If you are overweight or have been sedentary, start with 3-4 days spanning the week.
- Don’t do strenuous exercise, especially hot or humid weather.
- Drink enough fluids.
At your prenatal exercise class, your teacher should know your stage of pregnancy and should be qualified to train expectant mothers. Aquanatal classes are really effective as the water supports increased weight. Walking is awesome as it exerts minimal stress on the joints. Other excellent options include swimming, low-impact cardio or aerobics and cycling on a bike that’s stationary.
Exercises to Watch Out For
- Avoid staying flat on your back, more so after sixteen weeks, as the bump weight presses on the additional blood vessels and makes you feel faint besides reducing blood flow to the baby.
- Never go for a sport where there’s a chance of being hit like judo, kickboxing, tennis, squash, football or even rugby.
- Never participate in horse riding, ice hockey, downhill skiing, gymnastics, and regular cycling, as there’s a possibility of falling.
- Avoid scuba-diving, for baby, has no safeguard against decompression sickness or gas bubbles in the bloodstream known as a gas embolism
- Don’t exercise high altitudes like 2,500m above sea level. There’s a chance of altitude sickness and oxygen lessening. Avoid high impact, repetitive exercise, and ones with lots of twists and turns, lunges, steep steps or sudden abrupt stops that trigger joint discomfort.
- Don’t carry out exercises where you are too hot. This is because the body’s temperature is higher when you are expecting. So intense exercise can overheat you and raise the body temperature to levels unsuitable for your child.
- Always limit exercise in intensity, drink water, wear comfortable clothing and exercise in ventilated, cool places.
Guidelines on Exercise for Expectant Moms
For boosting the heart and general health, three 10-minute walks sprinkled across the day are beneficial as is 30 minutes on a treadmill or indoor cycle while you need to avoid water skiing or entering a horse-jumping competition some other exercises like downhill skating and mountain biking are also off limits. Conditions such as severe anemia, incompetent cervix, placenta previa, or ruptured membranes will make it impossible to exercise during pregnancy.
While exercising during pregnancy is a smart choice, always begin with a 20 minute warm up and 10-minute cool-down, and build to 30 or more if required.
Stay cool. If temperatures soar, do indoor workouts.
Warming up supports your heart and blood circulation besides reducing the chance of injury. Stopping abruptly traps blood in the muscles and damages the blood supply to the baby and your organs. So always finish with a few minutes of walking as well as if you are exercising during pregnancy.
Don’t push yourself to the point of exhaustion when expecting. Always stay in control, not out of breath. You should feel energized, not drained after finishing.
Know when to stop. Don’t exercise if you suffer from calf pain or inflammation, or muscle weakness impacting the balance. Serious signs that require calls to the practitioner range across unusual pain from the head to the hips, a cramping sensation that doesn’t go away, or regular painful contractions, pain in the chest, very rapid heartbeats, problems in walking, sudden headaches, dizziness/light-headedness, increased inflammation, bleeding, or reduced fetal movement after week 28.
Avoid exercises lying flat on your back or standing still after the fourth month. This is because the weight of the expanding uterus causes blood vessels to constrict, in such cases, reducing circulation.
Avoid full sit-ups or even double leg lifts pulling on the abdomen, so avoid these. Also skip activities that need deep backbends, deep flexing or even extension of joints, through bouncing, jumping, bouncing, or quick changes in direction, or even jerky motions.
Stay hydrated. For every 30 minutes, you work up a sweat, have an extra water glass especially in high heat. Sip water 30-45 minutes prior to exercise, and hydrated while working out and afterward.
Enjoy snacks so the body remains energetic when you exercise for longer than 45 minutes, as this can trigger low blood sugar. Enjoy light protein-carb combos before and post the workout session.
Always wear breathable, loose, comfortable stretchable clothes and a sports or support bra that does not pinch. Use comfortable footwear.
Olympic volleyball player and star sportsperson Kerri Walsh Jennings may have played volleyball when pregnant, but it is not recommended! The infant during pregnancy is surrounded by amniotic sac fluid, nestled within the uterus surrounded by organs, muscles the physical body. This creates a safe environment for a growing baby. However, even with the protection, high-impact exercise should be avoided.
Before exercising, remember to talk to your health care professional. If you get no or little activity, walking is the best exercise, to begin with. Walking is safe for most, it is easy on the body and your joints. Further, it does not need extra equipment. It is also easy to manage in a busy schedule.
When you are pregnant, the joints are more flexible from hormones causing certain muscles to loosen at the time of pregnancy. shifting hips.
This can impact balance as one nears their due date. The additional weight also causes the body to work harder.,These factors impact how you can exercise and what exercises to perform. Always consult your doctors and trainers before attempting any exercise.
A minimum of 30 minutes of moderate exercise is perfect for pregnant women.
Walking provides moderate aerobic conditioning with minimal joint stress. Other excellent choices include swimming, low-impact aerobics plus cycling on stationary bikes.
Always warm up, stretch a lot and cool down. Have plenty of fluids to remain hydrated, and avoid overheating.
Intense exercise raises oxygen and blood flow to muscles and moves it away from the uterus. This is not good for you or the baby. So don’t push yourself.
You should watch out for exercises that make you lie flat on the back post the first trimester. Scuba diving, contact sports, activities with risks such as downhill skiing, in-line skating or gym are absolutely forbidden. Also, any exercise that can trigger altitude sickness or direct trauma to abs is not permitted, Neither are activities that let you hit the water or any other surface in great force like diving, surfing or water skiing. Don’t opt for hot yoga or hot Pilates either.
Conclusion: Make the Healthy Choice
Stick with an exercise plan in case it involves activities that fit into your everyday schedule.
Start out small by walking around the park or to the grocers. Take the time to relax. You don’t need a gym or expensive equipment. Remember to find a workout buddy and this can really boost your health. Many fitness centers and hospitals offer classes like prenatal yoga for pregnant women. Choose a fitness regime that adjusts to your interests and your schedule. Regular exercise can help you to cope with any and every contingency, especially when pregnant. For quick and painless labor, easy delivery and best outcomes, opt for light and guided exercises when pregnant and make sure you and your baby are healthy for life.