It’s not uncommon for women to wonder whether or not they should exercise while pregnant. But it turns out that being physically active during pregnancy isn’t just a safe, it can have really great benefits for both mom and baby.
Benefits of Being Active While Pregnant
There is strong evidence to suggest that the risks of working out while pregnant are very low. In fact, there is even some evidence to suggest that physical activity can actually be quite beneficial. It’s great for a mom-to-be’s overall health and can even help reduce the risk of common pregnancy complications.
Additionally, staying active can help to prevent excess weight gain during pregnancy. 20-40% of women gain more than the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy, which can come with several risks, including high blood pressure or even miscarriage. Women who gain more weight during pregnancy also tend to retain that extra weight after the birth. Staying physically active is an effective way to avoid excess weight gain, keeping you healthier before and after the birth.
Along with these benefits, exercise may also help you to sleep better, keep your mood up, reduce stress, increase your cardiovascular fitness, and more, which can all help you to have a happier, healthier pregnancy.
Tips for Getting Active During Pregnancy
In order to make the most of working out while pregnant, follow these simple tips and guidelines to stay safe and healthy:
Clear it with your doctor first
While exercise during pregnancy is quite safe for most women and doesn’t usually pose a threat to mom or baby, there are specific cases and conditions where caution is warranted. Make sure to consult with your doctor to make sure that you are clear for regular moderate-intensity exercise.
Get moving for 30 minutes a day with a variety of aerobic activities
Thirty minutes a day of moderate physical activity (for five days a week total) is recommended for most pregnant women. Look to activities like walking, running, swimming, cycling, yoga, dancing, strength training, tai chi, low-impact aerobics, and more. It’s recommended to stay in a moderate-intensity zone, making sure you aren’t exercising so hard that you can’t talk (to avoid overdoing it and getting overheated).
Watch out for high risk activities
While aerobic activities are safe to do during pregnancy, you’ll want to avoid activities where you have a high chance of falling, where the chance for impact is high, or where you’ll get too overheated. Avoid contact sports, downhill skiing, scuba diving, sky diving, and hot yoga, along with any activities where you lie on your back after the first trimester.
Modify based on your previous conditioning
If you already exercised habitually before you were pregnant, then you’ll likely be able to enjoy staying active and continuing your favorite routines, as long as you work with your doctor to make sure that you are staying safe and comfortable.If you weren’t active before pregnancy, then you’ll want to start slow. Start with just a few minutes a day of low-intensity activity, such as walking around the neighborhood. As your endurance increases and you become more comfortable, dial it up bit by bit. Always stay cool and hydrated.
Fit more natural movement into your daily routine
You don’t have to go to a gym or a class to get plenty of movement into each of your days. Sneak in little bits of movement to your day here and there to increase your general activity levels. For example, park farther away from your destinations, spend time weeding the yard or raking leaves, walk while you catch up with a friend rather than sitting, etc.
Listen to your body
So much changes each day during pregnancy, and it’s important to respect that. Pay attention to changes in your body and the way that you feel, and be prepared to alter and modify your routines if necessary, whether it’s for morning sickness or your center of gravity shifting later in the pregnancy. If you experience any symptoms such as dizziness, chest pain, bleeding, or contractions, stop your activity and consult a doctor.
Stay well fueled and hydrated
Make sure to eat enough to meet both the demands of your pregnancy and of your exercise routine. And always stay well hydrated, drinking plenty of water before, during, and after you move your body.
Keep motivated and have fun
If you are having trouble sticking to an exercise routine, try things such as joining a class, recruiting a buddy, opting for outdoor activities, or choosing forms of movement you love like dancing or swimming – whatever works for you to make getting physically active as enjoyable as possible.
Getting up and moving during your pregnancy is a great way to boost your health and wellbeing while pregnant. Experiment with your routine until you find ways to get active that suit your body, fit well into your schedule, and that bring you joy.