Whether you have fitness goals in mind, want to manage your stress level, or simply want a healthy pregnancy, exercise is incredibly important. Read on for activity ideas, safety concerns, and more!
Benefits of exercise during pregnancy:
- Encourages good posture
- Relieves pain of backaches
- Reduces fatigue and depression
- Assists with constipation
- Lessens nausea and vomiting
- Lowers your risks of gestational diabetes
- Reduces stress and anxiety
Daily exercise builds stamina, energy, and mindfulness for labor and delivery. It also greatly improves your chances of an easier and faster recovery after giving birth! Even if you haven’t always been an active person, learning to listen to your body and practicing exercise habits a few times a week will be helpful for health, energy, and stress relief throughout motherhood.
Here are some of the best ways to keep moving during pregnancy, and a few that shouldn’t be tried:
- Yoga/Pilates – These forms of exercise combine physical poses with mindful breathing. This is great practice for labor and can be helpful for anxiety. Avoid twisting, lying flat on your back, and balancing poses for safety. Also avoid straining your abdominal muscles during a plank pose. Too much tension can lead to Diastasis Recti, a separation of the abdominal muscles. To make planks easier, let your knees rest on the floor for a modified plank.
- Walking – Three brisk 10 minute walks around the block every day fulfills your 30 minutes! Or 30 minutes on the treadmill. Whatever your schedule, walking can be the easiest route to get the time in. Remember to stay hydrated, wear supportive footwear, and don’t stay out too long in the sun when it gets hot. Avoid rocky terrain or intense hikes, your balance is off more than you think!
- Swimming – Cool off and hop in the pool for 30 minutes, and feel the difference in your body! Swimming is one of the absolute best pregnancy exercises due to the weightless feeling it creates, plus it’s relaxing and cooling. Avoid twisting motions and breathlessness. If you’re feeling tired, it’s time to get out.
- Dancing – You can take a beginner’s Zumba class or just dance around the house to your favorite tunes, find your rhythm and bump along! High intensity movements such as Ballet or Contemporary dance can be too much for some pregnant women without prior experience. Listen to your body, and try to avoid jumps, twists, and standing on one leg.
- Spinning – This trendy workout is great exercise if you go at your own pace. Stay hydrated, ensure your comfort during the workout, and be mindful of your heart rate. The low impact of this exercise makes it wonderful for pregnancy, but don’t overdo it. You may need to adjust your handlebars during the second or third trimester to account for your center of gravity changing.
Intense activity to avoid*
- Crossfit/Heavy Weightlifting
- Horseback Riding
- Contact Sports
- Standing still for long periods- such as meditative poses
- Racquet sports such as Tennis, Squash
- Scuba Diving
- Mountain Climbing
*without prior experience and training. Seasoned athletes will be able listen to their body and exercise to their personal ability until very late in pregnancy.
30 minutes of exercise per day is advisable for a healthy woman during pregnancy. If you have a medical problem, such as asthma, heart disease, or diabetes, exercise may not be advisable. Exercise should be discussed with your healthcare provider in case of the above concerns or if you have a pregnancy-related condition such as:
- Placenta Previa
- Current or Past Risk of Miscarriage
- Bleeding or Spotting
- Previous Premature Births
- Weak Cervix