Working Out During Pregnancy

pregnant fitness

When it comes to fitness and pregnancy, it’s easy to get caught up in the myths that it’s unhealthy or bad for women to exercise while carrying a baby.

It’s understandable to have concerns, especially for women who’ve had difficulty getting pregnant or experienced previous miscarriages. They don’t want to do anything to put their babies at risk.

But unless a pregnant woman has a specific condition or complications, she should most definitely stay physically active throughout her pregnancy for the health of her baby and herself.

“Many pregnant women today work and exercise right up until they go into labour,” writes Bodyfabulous trainer and mom Dahlas. “And pregnant women who already have children really don’t get to rest at all, especially if they are chasing after toddlers all day. Exercise is considered a necessary part of health care; so don’t cease exercise for no particular reason!”

It’s always wise to consult your doctor for affirmation and specific advice. Also, preventive health screenings should be done for women who are pregnant or trying to conceive. Some women develop gestational diabetes, which can present a serious health risk for mother and child, for example.

So What Is and What Isn’t Safe in Terms of Exercise?

Once a woman has calculated her due date, she can start planning workouts based, in part, on the development needs of both her developing fetus and herself. It’s a good idea to plan the days and times of the week to work out to ensure you stay on track.

Exercising for 30 minutes on most days can be beneficial during pregnancy. Even just 20 minutes a day, four times a week is good. The most important thing is to get up, get moving, and get the blood pumping.

Some people still cringe at the sight of a pregnant woman jogging and wonder why she is bouncing her baby inside her belly. Fear not. Many runners who ran pre-pregnancy continue to run throughout their pregnancies with no complications.

As long as you are healthy and not too uncomfortable, running is a great form of exercise. You may not be able to run with the same amount of energy and speed in the third trimester as in the first, but the point is if you regularly exercised before becoming pregnant, it’s okay to continue with your regimen and make modifications as needed.

Exercise tends to get harder the further along you are in pregnancy, so it’s natural to scale back. Even expert runners tend to cut back on the time and length as the pregnancy progresses.

It is important to stay hydrated and avoid hot temperatures. Use the “talk test” to avoid overexerting yourself, which means you should be able to carry on a conversation while jogging — not panting and turning beet red.

As for those who were not regularly jogging pre-pregnancy, actual pregnancy isn’t the best time to take up a strenuous activity, according to BabyCenter. “If you’ve been largely inactive before getting pregnant, ask your healthcare provider to help you plan an exercise program that leads to at least 20 to 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on most days of the week.”

What Are the Benefits of Exercising During Pregnancy?

During the first trimester your body is experiencing all sorts of changes, so working out may be the last thing on your mind. However, there are many benefits for baby and you, whether it’s in the form of yoga, stretching, swimming, going for a walk, or lifting weights.

According to a 2017 study, pregnant women who exercised were less likely to have an unplanned cesarean section and less likely to develop gestational diabetes than women who didn’t participate in a fitness program. Working out can help reduce the risk of complications from pregnancy. States reporting higher-than-average cesarean birth rates had a 21 percent higher risk of maternal mortality than states with lower-than-average cesarean rates.

Exercise can also help reduce lower back pain, an achy pelvis, constipation, and swelling. As the baby bump grows, it puts extra pressure on the lower half of your body, which is why it’s worthwhile to keep exercising along the way.

Pregnant or not, working out also improves your mood and increases energy levels. But it’s especially important for pregnant women because they are more prone to depression and anxiety. Between 14-23 percent of expecting women experience depression. Releasing endorphins through exercise will help diminish stress, anxiety and depression.

At a basic level, regular exercise keeps you fit during pregnancy and able to handle labor better. As a result, you’ll be able to get back in shape easier after your baby is born. As long as you are getting about 150 minutes of activity in a week, you’ll reap the benefits. Even if you can’t hit that goal, some exercise is better than none. Do what you enjoy, as long as it’s a safe activity, and stop if you feel lightheaded or short of breath.

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