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Exercise During Pregnancy: The Best Expert Advice

In general exercise during pregnancy is safe and it is beneficial for you and your baby. But before you proceed with any exercise, it is important to talk to your doctor first and discuss it with him or her.

It is recommended to work out at least 2.5 hours each week for every pregnant woman. You don’t have to work out 2.5 hours in one day. You can split into 30 minutes of exercises each day for 7 days. If you find exercising for 30 minutes is also difficult then workout 3 times a day for 10 minutes each time. Also, you can start with 5 minutes of workout each day and increase it slowly to 30 minutes a day. The 2.5 hours of exercise would be moderate-intensity aerobic exercise. It will make you take deep breaths. You will breathe faster and your heartbeat will increase. For example, brisk walking.

Why physical exercise is good during pregnancy?

Exercise During Pregnancy
Exercise During Pregnancy
  • For any healthy pregnant woman, regular physical exercise will provide you with numerous benefits.
  • Regular exercise during pregnancy will help you gain the right amount of weight.
  • Exercise during pregnancy will keep your mind and body healthy.
  • Exercises will make your lungs, blood vessels and heart strong.
  • Eases back pain, and constipation.
  • Exercise During Pregnancy eases swelling in your legs, ankles and feet.
  • It reduces your stress, worry etc.
  • Exercise during pregnancy helps you to sleep better.
  • Exercise During Pregnancy reduces the risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.
  • Physical activities make your body ready for labour and birth. It reduces the chances of having Caesarean birth (c-section).

What kinds of activities or exercises are safe during pregnancy?

If you are used to physical exercises before becoming pregnant, you might be able to keep working out now also. But it is always a good idea to speak to your doctor and listen to the doctor’s advice before proceeding. With the change in the trimester, you might change your exercises accordingly. Always try to engage in activities you enjoy and always choose activities that are safe for you and the baby.

Below mentioned exercises are generally safe to perform during pregnancy.

Exercise During Pregnancy
Exercise During Pregnancy
  • Walking: Light walking to brisk walking are good activities while you are pregnant.
  • Yoga: With the help of your yoga teacher, you can do some wonderful asanas or yoga postures that can benefit your body. You can modify your posture depending on your pregnancy condition. Remember not to lie on your belly or flat on your back.
  • Stationary bike riding: Riding a stationary bike is a good way to exercise during pregnancy. It is also safer than riding a normal bike as there is very less chance of falls.
  • Swimming: Swimming is a perfect exercise during pregnancy. Moving against the water keeps your heart rate up. Water also supports the weight of the baby.
  • Aerobics class: Low-impact aerobic exercises do put much strain on your body. Talk to your instructor and choose activities accordingly.
  • Strength training: It is safe to work with light weights under your supervisor’s instruction. It helps to build muscle and keep your bones strong.

Is physical activity safe for all pregnant women?

No, it is not. Your doctor can advise you on which exercises you can do depending on your pregnancy conditions.

  • Pregnant with twins, triplets or more poses a risk associated with exercise.
  • Gestational hypertension or preeclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy) are conditions when you need to be careful about choosing your exercises.
  • Preterm labour, bleeding from the vagina, or your water breaking aka ruptured membranes are things to look out for.
  • Cervical insufficiency means your cervix dilates early in the pregnancy. It might cause no pain or contractions. This insufficiency may cause miscarriage or premature birth. The doctor could recommend cerclage if you have cervical insufficiency or a short cervix (short length of the cervix). Cerclage is stitching your cervix to help keep it closed to avoid premature birth.
  • Heart and lung conditions can prevent you to do certain exercises.
  • Severe anaemia where your RBCs can’t carry enough oxygen to the whole body.

How does your body respond to exercise during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, your body changes in different ways.

  • Balance: losing your balance is very common during pregnancy
  • Breathing: You need more oxygen as your baby grows. The diaphragm muscle helps you to breathe but your growing belly put pressure on it. Therefore, you might find yourself short of breath.
  • Energy: You might have less energy as your body work hard to take care of the baby.
  • Heart Rate: To provide oxygen to you and the baby, your heart works hard and higher heartbeats are noted.
  • Temperature: Your body temperature is slightly elevated during your pregnancy.

What are the warning signs to watch for when you exercise during pregnancy?

Exercise During Pregnancy
Exercise During Pregnancy
  • Bleeding from the vagina.
  • Chest Pain
  • Breathing trouble
  • Faster heartbeat
  • Dizzy feeling
  • Headache
  • Muscle weakness
  • Pain or swelling in your legs.
  • Painful contractions on regular basis.

When can you start exercising after giving birth?

It all depends upon your activity during pregnancy, birth-giving procedure and if there were any complications. If you were physically active during your pregnancy, it would be easier to get back to exercise. Vaginal birth-giving helps you to get back to your normal exercise routine very easily. But if it is C Section or there were any complications then it would take some time before you can get back to your normal routine. Whatever the above case may be, always consult with your doctor first and then proceed for exercise. Also if there are any uneasy feelings or pain during post-pregnancy exercises then immediately get back to your doctor.

Is it safe to exercise during pregnancy?

It depends on your health and pregnancy. If everything is normal then you can start or continue exercises. But as always suggested by us, do visit your doctor before starting any exercise, especially during pregnancy. Also, learn which exercises or activities you should avoid during pregnancy.

Cardio exercise for all three trimesters during pregnancy

Walking, swimming, stationary cycling etc are cardio exercises. You can practice such exercises in all e trimesters. Consult with your doctor and proceed with the advised exercises. As per the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines, it is recommended to get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week.

It is good for both the baby and mom if you remain physically active. Exercise helps to keep your muscles fit. It also keeps your core strong and benefits your cardiovascular system. It also boosts your mood due to the release of endorphin, the feel-good hormone.

References

  1. Birch, K. M., & Esformes, J. I. (2008). The exercising female. In Exercise Physiology in Special Populations (pp. 249–268). Elsevier.
  2. CDC. (2022, June 3). Healthy pregnant or postpartum women. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pregnancy/index.htm
  3. Cooper, D. B., & Yang, L. (2022). Pregnancy And Exercise. In StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing.

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