Doctors report that frequent and regular exercise has numerous health benefits to almost everyone and pregnant women are no exception. There are of course risks involved but with planning and regular consultation with your physician, the benefits far outweigh the dangers. Here are a few of the advantages associated with exercising pregnant.
Of course exercise boosts your mood and energy levels which often fluctuate or drop due to weight gain and hormonal imbalance during pregnancy. Studies show it can actually lead to a drop in the risk of postpartum depression. It can also improve sleep, aid in circulation and ease the aches, pains and discomfort especially in the back, muscles and joints that often accompany pregnancy. There’s also the general reduction in excess weight gain as well as a higher likelihood of dropping the weight after delivery.
Exercise builds muscle and endurance which can lead to not only easier labor, quicker delivery and a faster recovery but may even prevent the necessity for the use of drugs and doctors intervention including C-section. It lowers the risk of Gestational Diabetes which can lead to obesity, pregnancy complications and type-2 diabetes later in life, preeclampsia, which can cause swelling, sudden weight gain, headaches and changes in vision and constipation. Even more important are the benefits to the baby’s health including a stronger heart, lower heart rate and more endurance during delivery, which can prevent the use of forceps or other devices.
As always it is essential to consult a fitness professional as well as your doctor before beginning any workout regime during pregnancy however once you have the okay here are a few of the recommended types of exercises to pursue. Walking, swimming, low impact aerobics, rowing and jogging in moderation, also light weight training is a plus but avoid contact sports that include falling or collisions, also high altitude hiking or scuba diving are not suggested.
The American College of Obstetrician and Gynecologists suggests 30 minutes or more of exercise daily as long as there are no medical restrictions. If you’ve been working out prior to pregnancy you should be able to continue your regime but if you have not this is a perfect time to get started! You can begin with as little as 5 minutes, work to 10 then 15, up to at least 30. Take your time getting started and be sure to avoid jumping, sprinting, full sit ups and deep knee bends, strait legged toe touches, exercising while lying on your back, twisting at the waist and holding your breath during any exercise.
There are pregnancy related conditions that may preclude you from working out including low placenta, bleeding, weak cervix or history of early labor, premature birth or miscarriage. Stop working out immediately and consult your physician if you experience headache, shortness of breath, muscle weakness, chest, abdominal or pelvic pain or persisting contractions, sudden swelling of the face or extremities and rapid heartbeat. Also beware of dizziness, nausea, a cold or clammy feeling, a decrease or absence in fetal movement and steadily leaking or gushing fluid.
As always it is important to always stretch and warm up prior to exercise as well as cool down afterward. Never work out at a high intensity for several days then sit sedentary for an extended period.
Don’t under eat. A woman needs an additional 300 calories during pregnancy on top of the calories that the workout burns. Drink lots of water, at least 8-10 glasses a day and get plenty of rest. With all of these things in place you are sure to experience a much more pleasant and palatable pregnancy. God bless and good luck!