Physical exercise is a part of our regular activity that helps in improving and maintaining physical fitness and complete health and wellness. While dealing with changes in body and all sorts of mood swings during pregnancy, hitting gym or doing physical exercise might be the last thing that strikes on your mind. Exercise during pregnancy is beneficial as it keeps you healthy and help you with certain common discomforts of pregnancy like fatigues, backaches etc. It even prepares you and your body for delivery. Even a small simple walk around your area or a stretching can lead to better mood, better sleep and fast recovery after delivery. A research suggest that exercise during pregnancy may prevent diabetes that develops during pregnancy, build more stamina required for labor and even relieve stress.
Low impact aerobics is recommended as compared to high impact exercise. Gynaecologists suggest for 30 minutes of moderate exercise on regular basis unless you have any pregnancy related complication.
Is exercise safe during pregnancy?
Yes, exercise during pregnancy is beneficial and completely safe, only when it is permitted by your health care expert. While your regular check-up schedule, you can ask your doctor about what type of physical activities are safe for you to perform. Doctor will suggest you after checking your health conditions. If you have any pregnancy complications, exercise during pregnancy may not be recommended.
If your pregnancy is healthy, your health expert will tell you to remain active and perform certain exercise as long as you feel comfortable. In healthy pregnancy, keep in mind that exercise during pregnancy does not put you at a risk for miscarriage, pre-mature delivery or baby born with low body weight etc. Always consult your health care expert before starting any new routine for exercise.
Exercise during pregnancy is beneficial
Avoiding exercise during pregnancy, if complications do not limit your ability to exercise, will be a big mistake. There are loads of reasons to keep doing exercise, even if you were not having exercise routine in past. For women having healthy pregnancy, exercise during pregnancy is beneficial. For pregnant women, exercise can:
• Lift your mood – Women’s body become more prone to depression and anxiety during pregnancy. But a survey has found that regular exercise during pregnancy reduces depression and anxiety by helping women’s body in releasing endorphins that helps in improving her mood.
• Fight with fatigue – Several pregnant women complaint about fatigue. It is tough to accept that getting too much rest can actually make you feel tired. Small walk or a comfortable yoga can boost your energy level easily.
• Minimize the risk of complications during pregnancy – In a study it was found that women performing exercises regularly were less likely to have gestational diabetes as compared those who didn’t exercise.
• Speed-up after-delivery recovery – Following your pregnancy fitness schedule will help you in faster recovery and will make you fit after delivery. Women who exercised during pregnancy are seen recovering faster and resuming regular activities faster after child birth than those who ignored exercise.
• Help in gaining and maintaining perfect amount of weight during pregnancy.
• Relieve few common pregnancy discomforts such as constipation, swelling in legs and feet. An active body encourages active bowels.
• Minimize the risk of cesarean birth. It is a surgery where child is born through a cut in your belly and uterus.
• Help you getting a healthy glow by increasing the flow of blood to your body.
• Improve your body posture as women’s body gain weight during pregnancy.
• Lower the blood pressure – It is normal to see that blood pressure goes up during pregnancy but too much high can be dangerous and lead to preeclampsia. Regular simple walk is found to keep blood pressure normal.
• Relieve back and pelvic pain – Growing baby bump puts extra pressure on lower half of body which results pain in lower back and pelvis. Exercising regularly may minimize such chronic pain, especially during late pregnancy.
• Improve sleep disorder – Pregnant women are seen facing hard time falling asleep. Regular exercise (not near bedtime) improves the quality of sleep and help you wake up feeling more rested.
• Boost to brain health in baby – Child of mothers engaged in scheduled exercise during pregnancy were seen less prone to neurodegeration (a symptom that can lead to Alzheimer’s disease).
• Help in lowering BMI – Moms performing regular exercise were found that their babies were less prone to obesity and diabetes.
• Result to a healthy heart – A regular workout during pregnancy could be seen giving positive result in the babies’ heart rate.
Who should avoid exercise during pregnancy?
Exercise should be avoided in the cases such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma, hypertension etc. Exercise can give negative result if women have a pregnancy related complications like bleeding, low placenta, weak cervix, history of premature births and recurrent miscarriage. Avoid exercise if you have heart disease, lung disease, cervical problem, severe anemia. Exercise should be avoided, if:
• You are pregnant with twins or more. Before starting any exercise, take advice from your health advisor. Advisor may advice you to do some low impact activities like walking, swimming or prenatal yoga. Avoid exercise having high impact.
• You have preterm labor or vaginal bleeding. Preterm labor happens before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Vaginal bleeding too can be a sign of preterm labor.
• You have preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is high blood pressure that only pregnant women faces. It starts after 20 weeks of pregnancy and automatically goes away after delivery.
• You have anemia or lung disease. Anemia is a conditions when you don't have sufficient amount of healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to the rest of your body. Avoid exercise if you have a lung disease. Ask your health advisor if it’s safe in such situation to exercise during pregnancy.
• You have low placenta. In this situation, placenta lies very low in the uterus and covers the whole cervix. The placenta grows in your uterus and supplies the baby with food and oxygen through the umbilical cord. Low placenta can cause heavy bleeding and other complications later in pregnancy.
Consult your health care advisor before starting any exercise program. Your advisor can provide your personal guidelines for exercise based on your medical history.
Types of safe exercise during pregnancy
Suitable exercises which can be performed regularly during pregnancy are swimming, walking, riding stationary cycle, low-impact aerobics, yoga, dancing etc. You can even try for a combination of cardio, strength and flexibility exercises. Exercises safe during pregnancy are:
• Swimming - The swimming supports the weight of your growing baby, and moving against it helps keep heart rate high. If you feel low back pain while performing other exercise, try for swimming. It is a best and most preferred safe exercise.
• Riding stationary cycle – It is safe to ride a stationary cycle than riding a regular bicycle during pregnancy. You’re less likely to fall from a stationary bike than a regular bike.
• Yoga – Your yoga instructor can help you modify or avoid poses that may be unsafe for your pregnancy, like lying on your belly or flat on your back. Some gyms and community centers offer prenatal yoga classes for pregnant women. You can join them and enjoy the benefit of safe exercise.
• Low impact exercise - In low-impact exercise include those exercise where you always have one foot on the ground or equipment. It includes walking, riding a stationary bike and using an elliptical machine. In high-impact exercise, both feet leave the ground at the same time. It includes running, jumping rope and doing jumping jacks. Move for safe exercise and you will surely accept that exercise during pregnancy is beneficial.
• Strength training - Strength training can help you build muscle and make your bones strong. It can be considered as a safe exercise to perform with weights as long as they’re not too heavy.
You can even walk in a safe area or at home. Also find ways to be active in your everyday life, like doing yard work or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
Avoid activities that has jerks, bouncing movements, any sport that can get hit in belly region, lying flat on your back, skydiving and scuba diving. Also avoid activities that can make your body temperature too high or exercising outside in hot humid days. Ignore doing deep knee bends, full sit-ups, double leg raises, straight-leg toe touches and waist twisting while standing.
Don’t give up exercising and stay motivated toward safe exercise
Avoid the practice of skipping exercise or giving up exercise. Try to involve activities you enjoy and fits into your daily schedule. Follow certain tips:
• It is not essential to join a gym or wear expensive workout clothes to get in shape. Just stay active and moving. Try a daily walk through your neighborhood or community walk few times a day. Ignore elevators and take the stairs.
• Better involve the whole family or friend with you during exercise. You can also join a group yoga in your community.
• Many fitness centers and hospitals offer prenatal yoga classes, designed mainly for pregnant women. Choose one that fits your interests and suits your schedule.
Don’t ignore signs your body alarming for
It is very important to watch and understand the signs of a problem your body is showing. Stop exercising immediately and contact your health care advisor if you feel:
• Pain in chest
• Dizziness, nauseous or light-headed
• short of breath before you start exercising
• Vaginal bleeding
• Calf pain or swelling
• Fluid leaking or gushing from your vagina
• Muscle weakness
• Abdominal pain and pelvic pain
• Decrease in fetal movement
• Irregular or rapid heartbeat
• Difficulty while walking
• Sudden swelling in ankles, hands or face
Points to remember while performing exercise during pregnancy
• Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothes.
• To prevent any injury, wear supportive shoes designed especially for the type of exercise you have chosen.
• Exercise only on a flat surface.
• Eat small, frequent meals throughout the day. Avoid exercise for at least an hour after eating.
• Drink plenty of water to keep you hydrated.
• Avoid getting up in fast speed to prevent dizziness.
Regular exercise can help you cope up with the physical changes of pregnancy and build stamina for future challenges. If you haven't been exercising regularly, you will admit with the fact that exercise during pregnancy is beneficial.