Why is Exercising a Good Idea During Pregnancy?

12 min read

Written by Pradeep

Pradeep

pregnant women exercise

Are you a fitness freak and ever ready to tread on that mill or are you the casual, take-it-in-your-own-leisurely-style type? The answer matters – now that you are pregnant. The reason being the fact that during the course of your pregnancy, you will gain somewhere between 10-12 kilos (thank you, big belly!) and this additional weight will be borne by your vertebral column, back muscles, abdominal wall, joints, and ligaments of your pelvis, and the muscles of your pelvic floor. But, if you appropriate exercise during pregnancy,  and prepare your body, you may be saved from the usual problems that arise from weight gain.

So, much before you feel the first kick of your little one, gear up yourself to kick start your day with a guided dosage of workout regime. After all, you are a strong mum who is going to deliver a strong baby soon. So, practice pregnancy exercises as you grow in size. However, when it comes to exercising during pregnancy, it is important to understand safe exercises during pregnancy and exercises to avoid during pregnancy

In This Article

Exercising Facilitates Easy Delivery

Simple exercising and controlled breathing can relax your body and mind, improve blood circulation, strengthen your muscles, and also facilitate a much easier delivery. Yes, you read it right – exercising while pregnant makes the delivery easier. For all you ladies having that question prodding you all the time – labor pain and delivery – take up effective pregnancy exercises right away. Of course, with your doctor’s permission as all pregnancies are not the same. For all of you, whatever exercise you do, make sure it is not so stressful that it leaves you wheezed out.

Benefit of Exercise During Pregnancy

Remember, during these blissful nine months, a woman’s body prepares itself to fabricate a new life within itself. The body and soul in totality direct its energy to one sole purpose. And exercise is supposed to fuel your body with a stronger immune system, mental clarity, stronger bones, and muscle strength, better sleep, and mood, improved functional mobility, increased energy level, and most significantly higher self-esteem.

With the onset of pregnancy, comes multiple transformations in the physical and mental health of a woman. Some changes are visible while others are deeply enveloped, and can only be felt by the one who is facing them. Apart from a good nutritious diet, exercise plays the role of a best friend of the new mom-to-be. Have a word with your doctor, or physiotherapist, or health trainer regarding your pregnancy and associated exercise activities. As experts say, a pregnant woman can execute any and every task, but with few measures. And, this fact applies to her exercise routine too.

When and How Should One Start Exercising During Pregnancy?

walking in pregnancy

Exercise during pregnancy does not require any fancy sportswear or gym equipment. So why waste time? All you need is a dauntless mind and body. Irrespective of the fact that you were a regular fitness freak before pregnancy or not, you should begin your workout from the day you learned about the new add-on to your family.

Relax! Don’t worry if you have walked a distance on your pregnancy track, and still not started exercising. Anytime is a good time, to begin with.

  • Walking is considered to be the easiest and the most effective form of exercise to begin with during this phase. It boosts the mental as well as the physical well-being of a pregnant lady. And if you have a partner to accompany you during such walks, the benefits are unparalleled. Also, this habit benefits the new mom even post-delivery in shedding those extra kilos and reshaping the mind and body.
  • Talk to your doctor to learn about the level of physical activity you can comfortably indulge in during the multiple trimesters.
  • Plan, prepare and follow a strict exercise regime for a fixed duration. Anything in excess is not acceptable.
  • Hydrate and feed yourself well before and after exercise.
  • Don’t let your body temperature exceed much. Your body heat should not be unbearable. Know what your body wants.

Who Should Not Exercise During Pregnancy?

Although it is advisable to be physically strong during pregnancy, there are certain pregnant ladies for whom working out while pregnant is not preferable at all. So if your medical condition quotes any of the below-mentioned terminologies in your report, then calm down. Simply sit back, relax and nourish yourself and your-to-be-born. Remember, it is always the best practice to consult your doctor before taking up any such physical activity.

Specific Exercises For the First Trimester

kegel exercise
When it comes to exercise for pregnant women in the first trimester, there are some factors you should take into consideration.

1. Low Intensity Exercise

Begin with a few low-intensity exercises like walking, aqua aerobics, yoga, and swimming if you are accustomed to it. Duration should be from ten to thirty minutes, as your body speaks.

2. Walking and Running

For walking, jogging, or running, opt for a flat surface. Also, the right fit and right size sports shoes should be your choice while moving out.

3. Aqua Aerobics and Swimming

Aqua aerobics or swimming assist a lot in minimizing or zeroing down the risk of any muscle or back injury during pregnancy.

4. Level B Exercise

Once your body has synced in with the exercise discipline, you may move to level B, which includes a moderate amount of weight lifting, jogging, or even running under expert guidance.

5. Kegels Exercise

Kegels exercise is one of the best types of exercise during pregnancy. If the term sounds too strange to you, put yourself at ease with understanding it as a set of pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy. The abdominal section of a pregnant lady undergoes a lot of physical stress and hence needs a considerable amount of attention from day 1. A set of Kegels exercises will strengthen the uterus, bladder, bowel, and vagina. This exercise renders its benefits during labor and delivery. It also minimizes the risk of developing hemorrhoids. A set of five to six Kegel exercises per day is good to go. In fact, the magic of this exercise is that you do it, but no one knows it.  You can do it anywhere. Simply contact your pelvic floor muscles without taking any support from abs or abdominal muscles for just five seconds and relax. Repeat and relax.

6. Yoga

Yoga is the best form of breathing exercise during pregnancy. It calms the mind and relaxes the muscles. If any pregnant lady is new to yoga, she should opt for guided yoga sessions, designed specifically for nine months. There are certain yoga postures that should be avoided during pregnancy like, backbend asanas, asanas that require abdominal twists or balancing concerns.

7. Pilates

Pilates during pregnancy boosts the strength and balance of the pregnant body. This also means minimal or no back pain with gradual weight gain.

8. Moderate Weight Lifting

Moderate weight liftingimproves the overall body balance and core strength of the pregnant body. But while doing low-intensity weight lifting, do not lie on your back or carry weight on your belly. Also, keep guard that you do not over-strain yourself.

9. Stationary Cycling

Stationary cycling is a great source of low-intensity aerobic workouts. Even if you have been a good cyclist before pregnancy, you should shift to stationary cycling to ensure safety. This is a great exercise for the first trimester.

[Read : Pregnancy Workouts During First Trimester: Routine Tips]

Exercises That are Safe During the Second Trimester

pregnant women doing yoga

Congratulations, you need not deviate much from the exercise routine, you followed during your first trimester. Also, these regular exercise sessions during pregnancy allow your body to gain only the needed weight. Following regular exercise during this time gives a proper shape to your body, which is beneficial for both mom and baby. So, if your pregnancy is uncomplicated to date and your body balance is good, you may execute the below-mentioned exercises with ease.

1. Walking

You can continue walking even in the second trimester. Walking at a desirable pace for ten to thirty minutes on alternate days of the week improves the heart rate. Make use of your upper arms while walking, to improve your stamina. But keep yourself well hydrated too.

2. Yoga

You can also continue with your yoga routine, in your second trimester. But beware of not taking the risk of executing yoga asanas that require abdominal twists or asanas which induce the risk of fall. It is better if you have a partner/ caregiver to support you during your regime. Also, avoid the posture where you are required to lie on your back and lift your legs.

3. Swimming or Water Aerobics

Water is a great friend. It keeps you hydrated and one can also take up an aqua sport like swimming and aerobics. Swimming or water aerobics doesn’t carry any risk of fall, and yet strengthens the pregnant lady to the core. So you may practice three to four days of the week.

4. Running

If running was a part of your exercise during pregnancy’s first trimester, then you may continue the same here. But be cautious, because, with an increase in the size of your belly, your center of gravity also shifts. Don’t take running as a novel exercise during the second trimester. Prefer a treadmill to lanes, as your body needs support now.

[Read : Pregnancy Foods And Workout For Second Trimester]

Exercises That are Safe During Third Trimester

This is the time when your body will set major challenges for you, as you are on the verge of giving birth now. In the third trimester, the pregnant lady feels the urge of frequent urination, and with increased belly size, it does become a little more challenging, skin feels stretched, the nights are sleepless, there are heartburns, Braxton hicks, back pain, fatigue and so much more.

But if exercise was your companion in the initial months, keep it along even now because it will shield you against all the above and many more conditions which come along. Reports suggest that a healthy and fit pregnant lady has zero or minimal danger of gestational diabetes and cesarean.

During the third trimester, don’t opt for any new form of exercise. Continue with walking, pilates, yoga, swimming or aqua aerobics, if these were what you did initially.

[Read : Pregnancy Foods And Exercises For Third Trimester]

What Are Stomach Strengthening Exercises?

Stomach strengthening exercises are those which support your back when the size of your belly increases and the hollow on your back increases, resulting in backache.

  • Go on your knees, take your hands in front of your respective knees and now lift your back to make a rectangular shape.
  • Pull in the muscles of your stomach and look towards the ceiling. Stay in this position for a few seconds. Relax gently.
  • Move your back only to your comfort level. Don’t overdo.

What Are Pelvic Tilt Exercises?

pelvic-tilt

Pelvic tilt exercises are the one involving mild spine movements and still strengthening the muscles. Before initiating pelvic exercises, a pregnant woman should consult her doctor and also understand what all types of pelvic exercises are permissible for her. There are numerous variations of pelvic tilt exercises. Let’s understand them in detail:

1. Standing

For pelvic tilt exercise, the woman needs to stand upright straight against the wall with back touching the wall. Hold on for ten seconds and then relax.

2. Sitting

Take a firm exercise ball for sitting. The height of the ball should be such that when the lady sits on it, her hips are higher than her knees. Sit with your back straight and pelvis bent forward.

3. Leaning

The lady needs to take an exercise ball and lie on the ball on back. The upper body is on the ball and the pelvis is in the midair. Remain in this position for a few seconds. Relaxing and then repeating it as many times as possible also aids during childbirth.

4. Lying on the Back

Lie on your back. Fold your knees by raising them. Lift the back from the pelvic region a bit and hold it for a few seconds. Relax and repeat.

Exercises to Avoid During Pregnancy

Here is a list of exercises that need to avoided during Pregnancy:

  • As a pregnant lady, one should avoid sports that carry the risk of balance or abdominal fall. Such sports are horse riding, badminton singles, gymnastics, skiing, snowboarding, bungee jumping, outdoor cycling, and many such related ones.
  • In pregnancy, don’t go for activities that involve major deviation in altitudes. Scuba diving is a part of such restrictive exercise.
  • Exercises which require you to lie on your back should be avoided, especially after the fourth month.
  • There are only certain pregnancy-safe ab exercises that should be done. Other abdominal exercises which require twists and turns are a big NO.
  • Don’t do any workout which will raise your body temperature beyond limits.
  • Backbend or knee bend or any such bending exercises should be given a break as of now.
  • You are wise enough to already know that no jumping or bouncing or stretching around can be done.
  • Say no to exercise which involves holding breath.
  • No contact sports, like squash, hockey, or tennis because the risk of getting hurt is more in such sports.

Precautions to be Taken While Exercising During Pregnancy

pregnant women drinking water

As per “The American College Of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists”, these are the below-mentioned precautions to be taken while exercising during pregnancy:

  • Always warm up your body sufficiently and cool down your body, before and after activity respectively.
  • Drink water every time you start your exercise, during the exercise, and post-exercise. Dehydration is not good for you. So at any point of time, you feel dizzy, or increased heartbeat or yellowish urine, be aware because your body is dehydrating.
  • Use a sports bra that provides good support to your breasts during exercise while pregnant. You may also make use of a belly support belt if needed.
  • Avoid any such exercise which raises your body temperature beyond limits. For this, wear breathable light clothes and work in a controlled temperature room.
  • Execute your exercise in a temperature-controlled room or surroundings. Avoid hot and humid weather conditions. They will make you feel uneasy.
  • Avoid lying flat on your back or standing motionless for long.
  • Keep yourself active on a daily basis. Don’t give long breaks or intervals because then your body tends to lose the momentum which it has developed to cope up with your physical well-being.
  • Have a proper mindset and positive attitude towards pregnancy workouts. Empty your grey cells from all the myths and negatives related to pregnancy exercises.

Does Exercising Benefit the Woman During Delivery?

pregnant women in labor

Labor pain is the most intense pain a lady goes through during childbirth. But for a lady who did follow a good set of exercises during pregnancy, this pain is reduced a lot.

  • As per a study, 65 percent of women who were regularly active during pregnancy, had reduced labor hours and less intense labor pain.
  • The need for interventions, like C-sections, is also reduced.
  • The risk of preterm childbirth is minimized.
  • Kegel exercise and other pelvic floor exercises, apart from foot and leg exercises during pregnancy, eases the push of the child during birth.

How Does Exercise For Pregnant Women Benefit a Child Who is About to Take Birth?

Studies show that mothers who did active exercise during their third trimester, not only did benefit their own selves, but it also proved to be beneficial for their child.

  • Prenatal exercise reduces the amount of body fat in babies, which further aids in optimal growth.
  • The heart activity of active mothers and their infants is also good.
  • Last but not the least, the cognitive brain development of babies born out of active mothers is better, as compared to others.

When Should One Stop Exercising During Pregnancy?

Irrespective of the type of exercise and the month of pregnancy, the lady should immediately pause her exercise if she experiences any of the following:

  • Breathing Trouble
  • Dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Palpitations
  • Muscle Tightening in Tummy
  • Water Leakage (Amniotic fluid)
  • Vaginal Bleeding
  • Tummy Pain
  • Pelvic Pain
  • Exhaustion
  • Severe Headache
  • Swollen Legs
  • Comparatively Reduced Baby Movement

Does Exercise Lead to Miscarriage?

pregnant women doing exercise

Of course not! Choosing good exercises for pregnancy with the approval of a doctor will not lead to miscarriage. How can an act of utter goodness and well-being be a reason behind failure? In fact, exercise along with its plethora of benefits reduces the chances of miscarriage. However, one should always consult the doctor as the amount of exercise a pregnant woman can do depends on person to person. The tolerance towards pregnancy activities varies with pregnancies.

How Soon Can the New Mom Start Exercises Post Delivery?

Heartiest congratulations new mom! We hope, because of a very active and healthy pregnancy, you had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery. So, after taking a break for a few days, you may resume your exercises as soon as you feel perfect to do so.

Don’t overdo any exercise. Start with very low-intensity exercises. Increase the pace gradually. Also, do take advice from your health care provider before resuming your exercises.

And, always remember to speak to your doctor before starting with these exercises, be it during pregnancy or afterward.

We believe that after such in-depth knowledge on the deep benefits of exercise during pregnancy, you must be all ready with your sports shoes on and your mind all set. We understand it’s not going to be an easy journey, but the end result is all worth it. Afterall;

“Mama, you are strong, beautiful, and more powerful than you know.
Trust yourself;
Trust your body;
And know, that
No matter how your birth goes;
There is a powerful collective of mamas that are right behind you,
Cheering you on.” – Anonymous

Wish you a happy and fit pregnancy, and we wish to see you on a regular basis for all your queries related to parenthood. Till then, happy reading!

Read Also: Exercises During Pregnancy For A Normal And Natural Delivery

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