Congratulations on your pregnancy! Now you can sit back, relax, and put your feet up until after delivery, right? Not so fast! Attitudes and beliefs about prenatal exercise have drastically changed over the past twenty years. No longer is pregnancy viewed as a time to sit, watch TV, and each chocolate. These days, it is encouraged that you maintain and improve your fitness levels while pregnant.
Regular exercise during your pregnancy provides many benefits including a boost in your moods and energy. Exercise can help you to sleep better, minimize unnecessary weight gain, and increase stamina that you will need for labor, birth, and recovery; possibly reducing your time in labor. Maintaining a healthy body and healthy weight gain will help reduce many common pregnancy discomforts like lower back pain, fatigue, and constipation.
Furthermore, research shows that healthy pregnant women who exercise throughout their pregnancy may have a reduced risk of preterm labor, a shorter labor, are less likely to need pain relief, and a faster recovery from childbirth.
Regular, moderate exercise not only gives you a healthier pregnancy, it may give your baby a healthier start. Experts recommend that you exercise for 30 minutes a day, on most days for a total of a minimum of 150 minutes each week. Most exercises are safe to perform during pregnancy, as long as you exercise with caution and do not overdo it.
Before starting a new exercise regimen, consult your health care provider for exercise parameters specific to you and your pregnancy. If you have been participating in a regular exercise regimen prior to conception, there should not be a problem continuing with your regimen until your body tells you to make modifications in the later months and/or add a belly band to support your abdominals when working out. As always, stay well hydrated while working out.
Exercise during pregnancy should:
- Increase your heart rate steadily as you work out
- Keep you flexible and limber
- Strengthen and condition your muscles
- Manage your weight gain by burning calories
- Prepare your muscles for labor and birth
Exercise should always start with dynamic stretches and end with static stretches. Here are some of the best type of exercise during pregnancy that should should do in combination your stretching:
- Brisk walking
- Indoor stationary cycling
- Low impact aerobics
- Yoga and pilates
Regular exercise will keep you and your baby healthy, fit, and enjoying your pregnancy!