Exercise During Pregnancy
Now that you are pregnant, you will find that exercise is just as important as maintaining a healthy pregnancy diet
. Exercise can help to develop your strength and muscle tone, increase your energy, and help you deal with all of those pregnancy symptoms. It also offers numerous other health benefits. So, if you are pregnant and thinking of starting up an exercise routine, read on and find out what exercise during pregnancy is all about.
Times Have Changed
It wasn’t that long ago that pregnant women were expected to lie around quietly for nine months without moving a muscle. You may remember your mom or aunts being unable to exercise for fear that they might overdo it; as a result, they were forced to suffer their pregnancy symptoms in silence. Luckily, times have changed and now pregnant women are actually encouraged to get out and about and be as active as possible.
The Benefits of Exercise
We have all heard about the benefits of exercise: it makes you feel better, it increases your energy, and it helps you to manage your weight. But what about the effects of exercise during pregnancy? Well, it turns out that exercise is very beneficial for most pregnant women. Research shows that pregnant women should get about 30 minutes of moderate exercise, three to four times a week throughout their pregnancy. Not only does this exercise help you to feel better but it also helps you to manage those pregnancy discomforts. Exercise during pregnancy helps:
- to relieve stress
- balance your hormones
- build stamina and strength for labor
- improve your posture
- minimize morning sickness and constipation
- prevent or manage gestational diabetes
Exercising throughout your pregnancy also proves beneficial throughout the postpartum period. It not only helps you to recover from labor faster, but it also increases your energy levels and allows you to shed those extra pounds more easily.
Before you start on an exercise routine, it is important to speak with your health care provider. Some women do suffer from conditions that do no mix well with exercise, so you should get the okay from a health care professional before starting any type of exercise regime. Once she gives you the go ahead, you can begin to plan your pregnancy exercise routine.
Take into consideration how much exercise you have done in the past. If you weren’t much of an exerciser before you got pregnant, then you should start slowly. Try exercising for 5 minutes a day and slowly work up to 30 minutes, adding about 5 minutes every week. If you are used to exercising, then you can start a little bit faster, but it is important to remember that you probably won’t be exercising at your normal pace.
Keep in mind that your body is going through a lot of changes. You may find that your balance is a little off because of the extra weight gain. Just be sure to compensate for this. Your heart rate will also be pumping faster than usual so try not to overdo it. Instead, focus on keeping your heart rate at about 140 beats per minute. As your pregnancy progresses, reduce the intensity of your exercise to a manageable level. If you start feeling tired, then take a break. If you start to feel dizzy, overheated or dehydrated, stop immediately.
Choosing Your Exercise
Choosing the activity you want to participate in is almost as much fun as actually doing it. These days there are so many activities that you can do during your pregnancy – you might even want to try them all! It is important to focus on low-impact activities that won’t stress your heart, joints, or muscles. Avoid any contact sports, like hockey, football, wrestling, or activities in which you might get hit in the stomach. Avoid dangerous sports like downhill skiing, scuba diving, and horseback riding.
Aerobic activities involve rhythmic and repetitive actions designed to increase your heart rate and the flow of oxygen throughout your blood stream. It improves muscle tone, stimulates your heart and lungs, and develops your strength. Some great low impact aerobic activities to try during pregnancy include:
- swimming or water aerobics
- stationary cycling
Weight training is a great way to tone those muscles and increase your stamina. You should focus on using light weights though, because heavy weights can stress your body and block blood flow to your uterus.
Yoga is a popular activity that combines relaxation techniques with exercise. Yoga exercises emphasize posture, breathing, and relaxation while building muscle tone and strength. It also increases your endurance so you’re prepared for labor. Many yoga studios now offer prenatal yoga classes which are specially designed for expectant mums.
Pilates exercises are becoming increasingly popular among expectant mothers. This is because Pilates combines breathing and posture techniques with strength training. Find a prenatal class that’s close by and fun.
Kegels are one of the best exercises that you can do while pregnant, and they don’t even seem like exercise! You just need to squeeze your pelvic floor muscles for a few minutes every day. Kegel exercises help to strengthen your pelvic floor, which often stretches during pregnancy. This will keep your bladder from dropping, which can cause incontinence.