Pregnancy and Exercise, Why Should You Do it?
Can I Exercise During Pregnancy?
You’re having a baby! It’s an exciting time, and now more than ever you have the desire to take the best possible care of your body for you and your baby’s health and well-being. When you’re thinking about your pregnancy and health, it’s only natural to think about exercise. Maybe you have a fitness regimen and you’re wondering if you can continue your routine. Or perhaps you really don’t exercise much at all, and you’re thinking now’s the time to start. The short answer to those questions is, YES. Exercising and being active during your pregnancy is recommended and safe (unless your OB-GYN advises otherwise). Here, we’ll talk about what staying and getting fit can look like during pregnancy.
The benefits of exercise during pregnancy
An article by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that being physically active during your pregnancy can help reduce your chances of developing gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and postpartum depression. It can also help shorten your labor and help you recover from childbirth faster. Physical activity not only helps your body, it also helps your “whole being” by improving your mood, reducing stress, improving mental focus and helping you sleep better. Additionally, according to the Mayo Clinic, exercising during pregnancy can reduce backaches, constipation, bloating, swelling and help you from gaining unnecessary pregnancy weight.
What type of exercises are okay during pregnancy?
There are all kinds of things you can do to stay fit while you're pregnant.
- Walking – around the track or around your neighborhood, it’s an easy way to get thirty minutes of exercise
- Pool workouts – swimming and water aerobics are great because they allow you to exercise your entire body
- Prenatal yoga – allows you to relax, stretch, practice focused breathing and visit with other women just like you
- Riding a stationary bike – it’s great cardio and the safe cycling alternative when pregnant
- Modified Pilates - this class is designed to accommodate your changing body and balance
Is it okay to run during pregnancy?
If you’re a runner and would like to continue running, you should talk with your doctor. In fact, you should absolutely talk with your healthcare provider about your exercise plan prior to continuing or starting one. Prenatal visits are great times to have these conversations.
It’s really important to listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel or seem right, stop doing it.
What are some warning signs when exercising while pregnant?
Your body is going through a lot of changes right now. Some days you may feel energetic and others tired and run down. Make sure you’re paying attention to what your body is telling you while you’re working out. The Mayo Clinic states that you should be aware of the following symptoms that something’s not right, and contact your healthcare provider:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath prior to working out
- Vaginal bleeding
- Uterine contractions that are painful and continue after your workout
- Vaginal fluid of any kind
- Pain or swelling in your calf
- Muscle weakness that affects your balance
What exercise should be avoided during pregnancy?
Most activities are safe to do while you’re pregnant. However, there are few you should avoid.
- Don’t participate in contact sports of any kind
- Avoid any type of activities where there’s a high risk of falling
- After your first trimester, don’t participate in a sport where you’d need to lie flat on your back — this could lead to blood flow issues
- Stay away from sports or activities where water could hit you with great force
- Avoid hot yoga or hot Pilates
Make sure to talk with your OB-GYN about what’s safe for you, especially if you have any developing complications or preexisting conditions.
How often should you work out?
Thirty minutes of moderate exercise daily is the ideal frequency for working out.. If you already exercise regularly, continue to work out at the same level as you did before your pregnancy as long as you’re feeling okay and your OB-GYN approves. If you’re starting a new exercise routine, experts recommend you start at 10 minutes and gradually add a few minutes each day until you reach 30 minutes a day. As mentioned earlier, listen to your body and if you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, stop and contact your doctor.
Becoming a mom can be a great reason to take care of yourself. An exercise routine will help you get or stay in shape for your new life. King’s Daughters’ Health is a wonderful place to bring your baby into the world. We provide excellent prenatal and maternity care. Our medical staff is highly skilled and compassionate. Ask us any questions about our programs and maternity care near you today! Call our new patient request line at 812-200-5082.