Pregnancy is a beautiful experience, but it doesn’t always feel that way. Pregnancy can lead to nausea, fatigue, headaches, mood swings, food aversion or cravings, and other unpleasant symptoms. Fortunately, there is a form of drug-free relief available to everyone - exercise!
Exercise does wonders for pregnant women. Research suggests that prenatal exercise may lower the risk of developing gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. If you've been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, exercise can help you manage the condition and prevent complications. Exercise helps enhance the mental and physical health of mothers-to-be. Only a few of the many benefits include:
- Boosts mood
- Improves sleep
- Reduces aches and pains
- Prepares you for childbirth by strengthening muscles and building endurance
- Makes it much easier to get back in shape after your baby is born
Recommended Exercise for Pregnant Women
It’s always crucial that you consult with your doctor or physician before engaging in a physical routine or making lifestyle changes during a pregnancy. Recommendations differ based on family history, individual health, period of gestation, and other outside factors.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that women with uncomplicated pregnancies aim to exercise at least 20 to 30 minutes a day with moderate intensity.. The ideal workout involves cardiovascular activity that gets your heart pumping, stretches that soothe the muscles, an intensity-level that manages weight gain, and a routine that prepares your muscles to handle the physical demands of pregnancy.
The Best Cardio Exercise for Pregnancy
A sedentary lifestyle isn’t recommended for anyone but it’s especially discouraged in pregnancy. Sitting for prolonged periods of time can put a strain on the body’s muscles, vascular system, and digestive tract. Getting up on the hour to walk around can improve circulation, boost energy levels, and engage the muscles. Plus, this requires no equipment and isn’t strenuous. Pregnant women should aim to get up and move every two hours minimum.
Swimming is the perfect low-impact form of cardio. The smooth movement through the water is easy on the joints and works muscle strength with every stride. If you don’t have a pool, the local community center usually has a facility where you can swim laps. Best of all, swimming is fun. De-stress with a swim on the weekends instead of going for a high-impact run.
Aerobic activity can be one of the most fun types of exercise out there, if you know where to go. Zumba class gets your feet moving and your heart beating but rarely feels like a workout. If you lack the necessary coordination, and are nervous about over exerting yourself, try a class that caters specifically to pregnant women. These classes allow you to feel comfortable and supported when you’re surrounded by women experiencing the same feelings.
The Best Strength Training Exercise for Pregnancy
Prenatal yoga involves specific poses for moms-to-be. Although, you may be unable to bend like you used to when you’re further along in your pregnancy, the modified poses are specially designed to stretch out your muscles, test your balance, and enhance your strength. Yoga is great for maintaining muscle tone but you should always pair it with a heart pumping cardio workout for best results.
Yes! You can still weight train while pregnant. If you are unsure about your form, consult with a personal training and triple check that you are taking precautions, while using slow, controlled movements as you lift. Weight training is the most focuses way to train specific muscles. After engaging in fat-burning cardio, you can work on toning up your body and building strength that will be maintained postpartum.
If you want to keep those core muscles tight and strong during your pregnancy, the best core workout for pregnant women is the plank. Most core workouts require a lot of crunching, twisting, and knee-to-chest motion. The plank can be performed, despite the size of belly (don’t be alarmed if your navel touches the floor). Lower onto all fours so your wrists are directly under your shoulders. Lift your knees off the floor (don't arch your back) so your body forms a straight line. Hold for 1 to 2 breaths, working up to 5 breaths. This will keep your back strong and help alleviate pain.
This Can Be Your Fittest Pregnancy!
Keep yourself strong, energized, and pain-free during pregnancy by establishing a workout routine. Remember to always consult with your healthcare professional and never push yourself beyond your comfort level. If you feel any pain, stop. Engage in fitness classes designed for pregnancy or the safe activities mentioned above for expectant moms. Enter motherhood feeling healthy and fit.