Exercising during pregnancy is both safe and healthy. In fact, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states that there are many benefits of moderate exercising for pregnant women. Such as reduced back pain, healthy weight gain, and improved overall fitness. Exercising during pregnancy will not lead to miscarriage or low birth weight despite some claims. Now, with that being cleared, you are probably wondering what exercises are best to practice during pregnancy. To help you out, we highlighted the 7 best exercises to do during your pregnancy recommended by health care experts.
Walking is something you can do throughout all 9 months of your pregnancy. There is also no need for equipment and it can be done anytime, anywhere. Walking during pregnancy may seem hard due to back pain, shortness of breath or swelling feet. But you can still should encourage yourself to walk at a slow pace for at least 30 minutes each day. Most women, unfortunately, don’t meet physical activity guidelines according to a study on 36 pregnant women in their 20th and 36th week of pregnancy. The scientists concluded that physicians should encourage women to increase their activity levels especially during the later stages of pregnancy.
Aerobic workouts stimulates oxygen intake, improve blood circulation and lead to better overall fitness. Going to the gym with other pregnant women is also great to socialize and share your experiences. According to one systematic review, there are not enough studies that examine pregnancy outcomes in women who exercised regularly. But the studies conducted show that women who practiced aerobics had the same pregnancy duration as women who did not. Furthermore, this review found a small number of studies that showed favorable outcomes for babies in women who practiced aerobic exercises such as better birth weight and larger placentas.
Swimming technically belongs in the category of aerobic exercises. However, it’s different from other forms of cardio in that it doesn’t carry the burden of gravity. An article published in American Family Physician explains that pregnancy leads to a shift in woman’s gravity center, lumbar changes, joint loosening, high oxygen demand and other things that can make exercising difficult and that increase the likelihood of injury. This is why swimming is considered a safe pregnancy workout as women get their bodies moving without the risk of sprains, fractures and blood pressure problems.
Prenatal yoga is good on so many levels which is why it’s a frequent favorite of pregnant women. One systematic review on the health benefits of prenatal yoga found that it helped reduce pelvic pain, decreased stress and anxiety levels. And improved physical condition and lead to better delivery outcomes (no delivery complications or preterm labor). Prenatal yoga is also great for the later stages of pregnancy when most women have difficulties with moving. The stress-reducing benefits of yoga will also be beneficial for your baby as stress during pregnancy was found in studies to increase the chances of developmental problems.
Pelvic floor exercises
Pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegel exercises, are recommended to prevent incontinence in the later stages of pregnancy and after delivery. During pregnancy, there is increased pressure on the pelvic floor muscles. Along with hormonal changes, these types of strain can lead to urinary incontinence in 41% of all pregnant women. Practicing pelvic floor exercises was found to reduce the chances of urinary inconstancy according to one systematic review. The exercise involves squeezing and releasing muscles that you use when you want to hold urine.
Because you lose balance during pregnancy, experts recommend stationary cycling as a better alternative to bicycle riding. The American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends that you avoid any exercises that carry the risks of you falling, and this, of course, includes bicycle riding. Riding a stationary bike requires more strength and endurance which is great for you to maintain physical fitness and which one study found had no negative effects on newborn size and overall health. Just make sure you drink plenty of water and take regular breaks to prevent overheating.
Moderate strength training
More and more women are practicing strength training that also involves weight lifting during their pregnancy. When done appropriately, these exercises are safe for both mother and baby as found in one study on 32 pregnant women who did strength training for 12 weeks. No women had unfavorable outcomes. And strength training exercises even improved their back muscles, making these a perfect pregnancy back pain treatment. However, do speak to your doctor before starting a strength training program to rule out any pregnancy complications such as cervical insufficiency.
Knowing your pregnancy week by week will help you decide which exercise works best in the different stages of pregnancy. Use these 7 exercise ideas as rough guidelines for your pregnancy exercise program and you will be fit throughout your pregnancy and ensure your baby is healthy.
Kathy Mitchell is a writer and avid researcher on the subject of Pregnancy. She likes to go out with her friends, travel, swim and practice yoga. In her free time, you can find Kathy curled up reading her favorite novel, or writing in her journal. To know more about her follow her on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.