by Grace Cooper
Exercise is an important component to any healthy lifestyle, but it’s especially important for pregnant women. Despite what you may think, pregnancy isn’t all about bed rest and food cravings. If you already exercise regularly, pregnancy is no reason to stop—although you may have to alter your routine a little bit. And if you don’t exercise already, pregnancy may be a good place to start, for the sake of your own health and the health of your baby. However, every woman’s pregnancy is different. So, while there are obvious benefits to exercising while pregnant, it’s important to discuss possible risks with your doctor before beginning an exercise routine.
How Exercise Helps
Exercise benefits pregnant women in a lot of ways. For instance, it can help with mood, sleep, soreness, and maintaining a healthy weight. It can also help women to prepare for labor and recovery after delivery. Additionally, regular exercise reduces a pregnant woman’s risk for gestational diabetes. Research has also found that women who exercise are less likely to have a C-section or other complications during delivery. These, and many other reasons, are why even if you weren’t active before, pregnancy might be a good time to start.
What Kind of Exercise To Do
Although regular exercise is good for pregnant women, there are some restrictions when it comes to working out. Pregnant women should generally avoid more strenuous activities, such as weight training and contact sports. It’s also important to keep in mind that the type of exercise you do during pregnancy will depend on how active you were before pregnancy. If you’re new to exercising but still want to stay healthy during pregnancy, a good beginner exercise is walking for thirty minutes. If you feel that you’re ready to work up from that you can move on to another aerobic activity, like swimming or light jogging, keeping in mind that you should be able to carry on a conversation throughout your workout.
Another good way to tell if you’re working too hard is to notice how exercise affects how you feel throughout the rest of your day. If you find yourself feeling sluggish, chances are your exercise might be too intense. Working out should energize you, not leave you exhausted for the rest of the day. All exercise routines should involve some kind of warm-up and then a stretching and cool-down process. And, no matter what kind of exercise you do, it’s important to remember to always stay hydrated and listen to your body. If an exercise is causing you pain, whether you’re pregnant or not, it might be time to take a step back and evaluate what kind of exercise is right for you.
Tips for Staying Active
Staying active during pregnancy can be difficult, especially because most fitness routines involve solitary activities. Try to find a workout buddy to exercise with you. This will make working out a little more fun and make you accountable for your daily routine. Also, some fitness facilities offer exercise classes specifically for expectant mothers. Check out your local resources for exercises that can be modified for pregnant women—that way you can do fun activities like yoga with a trained professional in the room to let you know what you should and should not do. Above all, make sure you do something that you enjoy. Besides all of its benefits, exercising should be something that you do for yourself.
About the Author
Former Birthright of Pittsburgh volunteer.