Everything You Need to Know About Pregnancy Exercises
Swollen ankles, back pain, feeling like the weight of the world on your shoulders. Pregnancy is hard. But what if you could make it all the better with exercise. I know that is probably the last thing a tired pregnant mother wants to do but actually, exercise has proven to be a great source of energy and relieves some of those pregnancy symptoms.
But you can’t just run a marathon when you’re pregnant. It’s important to know which exercises are good for you and which can be harmful to your health or the baby.
Importance of Pregnancy Exercises
Staying healthy while pregnant is crucial to minimizing risks for something to go wrong. Exercising while pregnant can have so many benefits if done correctly. Staying sedentary or inactive during pregnancy is not just physical either. It has impacts on your mood and the recovery after your baby is born.
Let’s talk about the wide range of benefits you get from exercising while pregnant.
Pregnancy Exercise Benefits
The list of benefits could go on forever! Mostly you will get a lot of physical benefits out of it but other things like the possibility of shortened labor, better post-recovery, and so many more are things to think about.
Let’s not waste any time! Here are your benefits.
Your feet/ankles and other parts of your body will naturally swell from the extra weight you will be carrying. This means that also your blood pressure will naturally go up to support the hard work you are doing and increase blood and oxygen flow. If you are in better shape and exercising you can bring your blood pressure down and find the workload to be easier in day-to-day activities.
Mood and Energy Boost
Exercise in general releases good endorphins and can boost mood and energy. This can be particularly important for pregnant women because some women may experience pre-labor depression commonly referred to as a postpartum depression. This can help combat restlessness. When pregnant people lay around all day they have a lot of time to worry and stress out. They may feel lethargic or easily bored. Exercising gives a woman time to release their energy and step outside their thoughts.
The quality of sleep has been said to improve dramatically when women exercise while pregnant. Restlessness and trying to stay asleep can be difficult. This is especially true later on. When you get some of that energy out and your body needs to recover, you will likely stay asleep longer.
Maintain Healthy Weight
It’s normal and healthy to add on extra weight because of the little one growing inside you. You should be eating enough for two! However, it’s also common for women to experience a weight gain on top of the baby pounds. Exercising helps maintain a healthy weight that makes it easy to lose the baby weight after giving birth.
Best Pregnancy Exercises
Certain exercises are better than others when it comes to pregnancy. Some may be slightly too rigorous at different stages in your term while others may allow you to push yourself just a little bit more. Here are the best pregnancy exercises that you can do!
Swimming is one of the best exercises you can do for cardio because it requires endurance and strength but doesn’t require any pounding of the joints. It’s also one of the safest exercises you can do at just about any time in your pregnancy.
Stairmaster offers a combination of cardio endurance and strength in your legs. It’s a two-for-one deal that is safe as long as you go at a comfortable pace. You don’t want to run the Stairmaster in the event of tripping.
Walking or Running
Walking is always a relaxing and great choice to get exercise. This is encouraged later in your pregnancy whereas running is fine for the beginning of your term. You may want to be careful with your joints and the pounding you put on your body as the baby develops.
Barre is a wonderful strength class that has less to do with cardio and more to do with flexibility and working your muscles. Strength training is just as healthy and important as cardio and can help with recovery.
Yoga is something you can do till basically your due date. The nature of what yoga you practice will change as you don’t want to practice dangerous inversions. But pregnancy yoga can be something wonderful for your mind and your body.
Any kind of weightlifting class is going to strengthen your body. As you become more pregnant you will need to be careful about the weightlifting exercises you choose to do. Putting too much strain on yourself, later on, can be dangerous.
Aerobics and dance classes are a great way to get on your feet and keep yourself healthy. It’s also a fun way to exercise. The further your term is the less risk you will need to take with how aggressive the class is.
Indoor cycling is a lot safer than outdoor cycling because of the possibility of trauma. Spinning classes among other things is a comfort low-impact way to exercise.
How many exercises to Do
The important question is not always what you need to do but how much of it you can do. This will change from the time you first get pregnant to when you approach your due date. Meanwhile, you will need to adjust and monitor how hard you push yourself.
The general number if there was one should be about 150 minutes of exercise per week at a moderate intensity. Everyone’s intensity will be different as some women’s heart rate will get up faster than others.
Tips for Pregnancy Exercise
There are a lot of tips and advice out there when it comes to how to exercise, how much, and what kind. It can be overwhelming. Keep it simple by following an umbrella of advice listed below.
Being dehydrated in general is dangerous but especially if you’re pregnant. If you are exercising consistently then drinking more water than usual is important. If you exercise roughly 30 minutes a day, based on your intensity try drinking a full glass after working out. You should drink an extra glass well before your workout so you don’t feel sick while moving around.
Measure Your Heart Rate
Everyone’s level of intensity is different. This is why wearing a heart rate monitor can be particularly helpful to know how much strain you are taking on. Some women may be able to run for longer without pushing their heart rate into a dangerous range.
Listen to Your Body
While exercise can relieve pain, it also sometimes can cause pain. If you are injured or feeling not well, it is important to listen to your body and not push yourself to the brink. All exercise should be in an incremental and immediately stopped if there is pain.
Risks and Cautions
While there are many benefits to exercising there are also some risks that should always be considered. Some are more obvious than others. Here is what you should take into account when exercising.
While it is OK to sweat you should monitor your body temperature and not allow it to get to unsafe levels. While you may be unaware of your actual body temperature you can take note of hot climates. You shouldn’t exercise in the heat or expose yourself to excessive sweating, saunas, hot tubs, and more. This can be bad for both you and the baby.
Sometimes our bodies just don’t respond well to things. If you develop or have an underlying condition that increases the risk to your baby and your health, it may not be possible to participate in certain forms of exercise. This is something that should be discussed with your doctor to make sure you are not at risk.
Certain exercises carry a higher level of risk than others. Biking outside for example carries a higher risk of trauma. You could fall off the bike or have an accident that injures you and or the baby. Avoiding exercises like this is always a good idea especially as your pregnancy term nears your due date. This can even include dancing.
Pregnancy Exercises FAQs
It’s understandable if there are still so many questions that need to be answered. There is a fine line between pushing it and overdoing it. And many questions arise individually because every woman’s body and response system is different. Here are the most frequently asked questions when it comes to exercising while pregnant.
What Should I Do If I Have Never Exercised Before?
Just because you have never exercised before doesn’t mean it’s not a good time to start. What needs to be remembered is that exercise can be difficult for anyone starting let alone starting while pregnant. Now more than ever is the time to take into account what you can handle and what is too much. It may be difficult to judge this which is why you can work with a health professional like a trainer or a class and measure your heart.
Whatever you do, you should start at the beginning level or some easier exercises like walking. Then you can walk on an incline or start swimming. These are easy ways to get involved while being able to take it easy. Even 10 minutes a day is better than no minutes!
What Should I Wear?
This is an important question. What you wear should neither be too constrictive or unsupportive. Finding the balance can be difficult but things like a supportive sports bra are really important. Other areas that can do well with moderate compression may be some of your legs and areas where joints may swell. You can’t however wear restrictive clothing to your stomach and overly restrictive clothing around your legs and other areas because if you cut off circulation you defeat the point.
Compression is meant to have increased circulation but something too tight can cause nerve damage by cutting off your blood supply. Any time you start to feel a tingle or numbing pain in an area this is likely due to cutting off your circulation and oxygen to a certain area.
What Exercises Should I Avoid?
Any exercises that involve contact should be avoided. While kickboxing is a great exercise in general the part where you fight someone else should be eliminated. Any recreational activity as well that can increase your risk for trauma should also be avoided. This would be something like skateboarding or skydiving, rock climbing, and more. These types of activities pose too much risk at any stage in the pregnancy to both the mother and the baby.
Exercising while pregnant is most importantly meant to be a time where you can enjoy yourself. While you should push your limits safely, you should also enjoy it. If you aren’t having some sort of reward or benefit that you likely will become resentful of doing it and quit. When you do something, you like, do remember that it should be at a moderate intensity. There are so many great benefits like better sleep, quicker recovery, among so many more, but if you put yourself at risk none of those things matter. Some simple things you can do to ensure your active safety include exercising in safe climates. This includes temperature control as well as safety. Any exercise that can result in falling or collision with anything is dangerous to both yourself and the baby.
If you have any further confusion or questions, it’s always a great idea to consult with your doctor. They know your medical history and will be able to adequately guide you through an appropriate amount of exercise.