Exercising While Pregnant: Safety, Benefits & Guidelines
There are usually many questions that come to mind when planning how to exercise during pregnancy. Physical exercise is bodily activity that improves or maintains physical fitness and overall health and wellness. This type of exercise during pregnancy is important and can help with some common discomforts of pregnancy and even help prepare your body for labor and delivery. In this week’s blog, I’ll share the latest insight including the many benefits of exercise during pregnancy, plus the best forms of exercises to take part in.
Is exercise during pregnancy safe?
Overall and in most cases, exercise is safe during pregnancy. You will usually find it is even recommended. Typically, the first rule of thumb is if you were physically active before you were pregnant, it is likely safe to remain active during pregnancy. More than likely, your healthcare provider will tell you to remain active, as long as it is comfortable and there are no other health conditions suggesting otherwise.
Now is not the time to exercise for weight loss, however, proper exercise during pregnancy will likely help with weight loss after the delivery of your baby. Exercise does not put you at risk for miscarriage in a normal pregnancy. You should consult with your health care provider before starting any new exercise routine.
What are the benefits of exercise during pregnancy?
Exercising for 30 minutes on most, or all, days can benefit your health during pregnancy. The important thing is to be active and get your blood flowing.
To have success in completing exercises during pregnancy, it is a good idea to plan the days and times during the week when you will exercise. Prenatal yoga is a great, low impact exercise that can be highly beneficial during pregnancy. At NRG 4 Life, while we do not offer yoga specifically for pregnant women, all of our yoga instructors have experience working with those who are pregnant and can offer modifications so it will be a safe and effective session. Yoga promotes mindfulness and helps you relax which are great tools to learn for labour and delivery. Some poses will strengthen your muscles, (especially the core) and help to keep your body more limber which will prove very helpful as your body starts to take on a new shape to accommodate your growing little one.
The benefits of moving more during pregnancy begin immediately and last your whole life. Your baby will start reaping the benefits in utero, too. Here’s a laundry list of reasons to start exercising today, along with excuse-busting ways to overcome some common obstacles.
Guidelines for choosing an exercise during pregnancy
If you participated in a regular exercise activity prior to becoming pregnant, it is probably fine to continue to participate during your pregnancy. There are many exercises that are safe to do during your pregnancy, but it is important not to overdo it and to use caution.
Your baby is surrounded by fluid in the amniotic sac, which is nestled inside the uterus, which is surrounded by the organs, muscles and your physical body. This actually creates a rather safe environment for your developing baby. However, even with this protection, it is recommended you avoid high-impact exercise.
You will probably want to avoid these types of exercises during pregnancy:
You may want to include these basic guidelines in planning exercise during pregnancy:
Which exercises during pregnancy are beneficial
Before you begin exercising, remember it is important to talk to your health care provider. If you typically get little or no activity, walking is a great exercise to start with. Walking is usually safe for everyone, it is easy on your body and joints, and it doesn’t require extra equipment. It is also easy to fit into a busy schedule.
Squatting during labor may help open your pelvic outlet to help your baby descend, so practice squatting during pregnancy. To do a squat, stand with feet shoulder width apart and slowly lower into a squat position. You should keep your back straight, heels on the floor and your knees shouldn’t protrude in front of your feet. Hold the squat for 10 to 30 seconds; you can rest your hands on your knees.
Then slowly stand back up, pushing up from your knees with your arms, if you need to. Repeat this 5 times working up to more.
Small pelvic tilts strengthen the muscles in your abdomen and help alleviate back pain during pregnancy and labor. To do pelvic tilts get on your hands and knees. Tilt your hips forward and pull your abdomen in. Your back should slightly round. Stay in this position for a few seconds then relax without letting your back sag. Repeat a couple of times, working up to 10.
Body changes that affect exercise during pregnancy
There are many changes happening in your body during pregnancy. First, joints are more flexible from the hormones which cause certain muscles to relax during pregnancy. Your center of gravity or equilibrium is shifted from the extra weight in the front, as well as, your shifting hips.
This can affect your balance as you near your due date. The extra weight will also cause your body to work harder than before you were pregnant.
All of these factors may affect how you exercise and what exercises you choose to do. Remember, it is always recommended you consult your healthcare provider about exercises for your specific situation.
NRG 4 Life staff can help pregnant members to navigate the best classes for their needs. Again, all of our group fitness and yoga instructors have training to offer modifications. Exercises with the legs in the air and those which involve being supine (lying on stomach) should all be avoided, however, there’s more comfortable, safer alternatives for these which will be offered.