Why Exercise Is Important During Pregnancy
Did you know that that exercise can help your body cope with pregnancy better, while preparing you for the demands of labour and caring for a newborn baby?
Now pregnancy is traditionally known as a time when women are encouraged to take a step back, sit down, lie back, put her feet up, indulge her cravings, be pampered by loved ones and so on and so forth. Certainly when you’re feeling much like a beached whale, the last thing you would imagine doing is lifting weights.
But did you know that that exercise can help your body cope with pregnancy better, while preparing you for the demands of labour and caring for a newborn baby?
The important thing to keep in mind is you don’t need to be a cross-fit-doing, boxing-bag-kicking, triathlon-running super warrior mummy-to-be to reap the benefits of exercise. All you need is some gentle, low-impact exercise.
Benefits of exercise during pregnancy:
- It’s an energy booster – exercise strengthens your cardiovascular system, muscles and stamina so you have more energy.
- You're likely to gain less weight – it keeps you in shape and you’ll gain less fat.
- Prepares your body for labour - labour requires stamina, focus and plenty of determination and exercise helps with all three.
- Lower your risk of certain pregnancy-related complications – it can help reduce the risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.
- Reduce pregnancy discomfort - Less back pain, better circulation, fewer aches and pains and maybe even better sleep.
- Reduce stress – exercise helps you chill out and stay calm. It can also lift your spirits.
- Better body image- exercise increases the blood flow to your skin, giving you a healthy glow.
- Helps you bounce back quicker after delivery – when you’ve maintained your strength and muscle tone through your pregnancy, your body will have an easier time bouncing back after you give birth.
Gentle, low-impact exercise is key:
- Walking - A quick stroll around the neighbourhood or taking the stairs instead of the elevator at the office is a great way to start. You'll get a cardiovascular workout without too much impact on your knees and ankles, and you can do it almost anywhere and at any time throughout the entire nine months.
- Swimming – This is an amazing low-impact exercise that’s also super safe for pregnancy. There's zero chance of falling on your stomach and injuring your baby. Exercising in water gives you better range of motion without putting pressure on your joints. You’ll feel weightless even at your heaviest!
- Yoga –This keeps your joints limber and helps you maintain flexibility. Yoga can also help with labour as it strengthens your muscle system, stimulates circulation, and helps you relax; you can put to good use the techniques you learn during class. Be careful not to overstretch though, as pregnant women are extremely flexible.
- Aerobics – Aerobic exercise strengthens your heart and tones your body. You can join a class specifically for pregnant mums which will be tailored to be safe for pregnancy, and meet of other moms-to-be.
- Weight training - As long as you take the necessary precautions and use good technique (meaning slow, controlled movements), weight training is a great way to tone and strengthen your muscles. Its also a great way to prepare you for all the lifting you’ll be doing once baby arrives!