Exercising during pregnancy is safe and healthy for you and your baby. Healthy pregnant women should aim to exercise at least 20 to 30 minutes a day, on most or all days a week. Maintaining a moderate-intensity regular exercise routine can help improve your posture, decrease fatigue, ease pregnancy discomforts such as backaches and leg swelling, relieve stress, and build stamina you will need for labour and delivery.
Exercising has also proved to be effective in reducing the risk of pregnancy complications, for example, gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. It also helps to reduce the risk of having a cesarean birth and enables you to gain the right amount of weight during pregnancy. Some pregnant women fear that exercising will increase the risk of having a miscarriage, premature baby, or a baby born with low birth weight. However, exercise is not dangerous for your baby.
Activities such as hot yoga, horseback riding, basketball, and downhill skiing are not safe during pregnancy. Also, avoid exercises that require you to lie on your back for more extended periods and exercising at heights over 2500m above sea level to avoid the risk of altitude sickness for you and your baby. Here are some exercises which are safe for pregnancy.
Walking is a great workout as it doesn’t strain your muscles and joints. It is a workout that you can continue until your delivery date. Even on the day of delivery, walking can help with the contractions. If you stay active, you are less likely to suffer from pregnancy complaints such as varicose veins, tiredness, and swollen feet. Walking also helps in improving sleep and reducing anxiety levels.
Swimming and water aerobics
Water supports the weight of your growing baby and is easy on your muscles and joints. Moving against the water helps keep the heart rate up. Relaxing in the pool can also help relieve nausea, sciatic pain, and puffy ankles. Avoid walking on slippery pool decks and slide into the pool instead of jumping in. Water workouts are great for pregnant women who are new to exercise.
Riding a stationary bike
While riding a regular bike is dangerous for pregnancy, riding a stationary bike is a lot safer. With a stationary bike, you are less likely to fall off compared to a regular bike. As you cycle at your own pace, you prevent the risk of putting pressure on your ankle and knee joints. Also, make sure to adjust handlebars to avoid leaning forward, which adds pressure on your lower back. However, if spinning is too exhausting for you, take a break until your baby is born.
Aerobic classes and dance workouts
Low-impact aerobics and dance workouts are a great way to speed up your heart rate and get the endorphins flowing. Always listen to your body and never exercise to the point of exhaustion. Also, avoid jumping or high-impact movements. Aerobic classes like Zumba are great for exercising during pregnancy.
Stair climbing is another good way to exercise while pregnant. As your pregnancy progresses, you may have a hard time with resistance. You can adjust your speed, incline, and tension to a level that feels comfortable to you. Also, be careful with where you step to avoid stumbling.
Pilates help in improving balance, strength, flexibility, and posture. It is a low-impact exercise that uses breathing techniques, similar to yoga. It also helps in preventing pains and aches associated with pregnancy. It mainly focuses on the pelvic floor, which is vital for labour and recovery after birth. Avoid stretching too much and once you hit the 16th week, avoid exercises that require you to lay on your back.
Yoga is a great physical activity during pregnancy as it focuses on mental and physical wellbeing. Since it uses breathing techniques, yoga helps in reducing anxiety and keeping pregnant women calm during pregnancy and in labour. Even if you have been doing yoga before pregnancy, try improving your yoga techniques instead of trying new and advanced postures. As your pregnancy progresses, you are more likely to lose balance, therefore focus on moving slowly when practicing yoga.
For as long as you are healthy and feel comfortable, strive to remain active during your pregnancy. It will help you get back in shape after birth. Always consult with your doctor before beginning an exercise program since each woman and pregnancy are different.