Pregnancy and Exercise

training with weights

Any woman striving for a healthy pregnancy will consider exercise as part of her daily regiment. But if she’s not already an athlete, or was not already engaged in an exercise program, figuring out where to begin can be a challenge. Exercising while pregnant can seem like a challenge at first, but once the benefits become noticeable, it can become easier to continue.

Reasons to Exercise During Pregnancy

In addition to helping to maintain a healthy pregnancy weight, exercising during pregnancy can help a pregnant woman feel better physically and emotionally. Exercise can give a woman back some feeling of control over her body at a time when it seems that it’s no longer hers. Additionally, the endorphins produced by movement can help to elevate the mood, while eliminating stress and anxiety.

Joints, which become loosened by the hormone relaxin, may benefit from regular exercise, particularly if the mom-to-be is experiencing hip or joint pain. Toning muscle groups can also help to take the strain off the lower back and other areas as the center of gravity begins to shift.

A strong body, and good circulation can greatly aid labor, particularly in the case of a long labor, while a fit body will return to its pre-pregnant state at a faster rate.

pregnant woman

Safe Pregnancy Exercises

Every woman’s fitness level can be different, therefore every woman’s safe pregnancy exercise routine may be different. Women that were runners before becoming pregnant can often continue their running while pregnant, with only some modifications to their basic routine. Women who were not active before becoming pregnant, can still begin an exercise routine safely.

Swimming is an excellent exercise for pregnant women, as it is both aerobic and non-weight bearing, which can help take the strain off joints and the back. Prenatal yoga, or yoga for pregnant women is offered at many hospitals and yoga studios, and can help gently stretch and strengthen core muscle groups that take a great deal of strain during pregnancy.

Walking can be an exercise program started by anyone no matter what their fitness level. Begin slowly, with five minutes of warm up and five minutes of cool down time for each walk, and add time gradually each week. The speed and length of time can be easily modified, making walking a great exercise at any time in pregnancy.

Light weight lifting is normally safe during pregnancy, but be careful not to lift more than 40lbs, and not to lay flat on the back after the first trimester of pregnancy. Avoid doing any weight lifting exercises which engage the abdominal muscles, as this can lead to problems as the muscles begin to stretch out.

Always be sure to speak to a doctor before beginning any exercise program while pregnant. While exercise may help with some pregnancy problems, such as high blood pressure or gestational diabetes, these problems may lead a doctor to curtail some exercises, so always defer to their judgment.

Staying healthy during pregnancy can go a long way toward making a safer birth, and easier recovery. Try incorporating some just 2-1/2 hours of exercise a week into the pregnancy routine, and reap the benefits for months to come.