Pregnancy is a beautiful time in a woman’s life, and keeping healthy during this time is very important. But before you hit the treadmill with a baby on board, it’s important to learn about how to properly exercise while pregnant.

Exercise during pregnancy is possible, and recommended

Photo courtesy of pregnancyworkout via Instagram
Photo courtesy of pregnancyworkout via Instagram

Often times, pregnancy is portrayed as an uncomfortable or even painful experience, but it doesn’t have to be. With the help of moderate exercise, pregnancy symptoms can be reduced while giving your body a head start in preparing for labor. Engaging in regular exercise during pregnancy can reduce symptoms such as backaches, bloating, weight gain, and much more. Before you hit the treadmill with a baby on board it’s important to learn about how to properly exercise while pregnant. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Benefits of exercise during pregnancy

If you previously believed exercising while pregnant is bad for the body, banish that thought from your mind. According to numerous experts, including the Mayo Clinic, exercising while pregnant is very beneficial for yourself and your baby for a variety of reasons.

  • Exercise combats unpleasant pregnancy symptoms – Are you interested in reducing unpleasant pregnancy symptoms such as stress, backaches, bloating, swelling, weight gain, and fatigue? While pregnancy is certainly not the time to focus on weight loss, excessive weight gain prevention is possible. Exercise has been proven to combat all of these symptoms.
  • Exercise leads to an easier labor – Mothers who engage in aerobic exercises have lower heart rates, and this low heart rate is passed to their babies Exercise also leads to an easier time during labor. This is because regular exercise builds stamina and endurance, two qualities that are absolutely necessary when giving birth.
  • Exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous – Easy-to-access exercises like walking around your neighborhood on cool days, or online prenatal yoga videos will do the trick. Furthermore, women who have at least 20 minutes of exercise for three days a week during their pregnancy, birthed babies with greater cognitive development and brain function.
  • Exercise is great for the baby – Women who exercise during pregnancy are shown to give birth to babies with less body fat, better heart health, and more advanced brains. It is recommended that pregnant women participate in 30 minutes or more of daily, moderate exercise, according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Exercise caution, and listen to your body

The most important part of exercising while pregnant is to listen to your body. Pushing yourself too hard while exercising can lead to injury, increased stress levels, and other health problems. As a general rule of thumb, it is important to keep your exercise activity at moderate levels. Here’s how to do that.

  • For the low-intensity workout woman – If you’re just getting started working out, your body will need time to adjust to higher activity levels. If you’re feeling overworked by your pregnancy exercise routine, try alternating your normal moves with low-intensity workouts like walking, swimming, stationary cycling, light elliptical training, or some prenatal yoga.
  • For the high-intensity workout woman – If you’re used to more intense workouts and you want to challenge yourself, consider activities like Zumba or weight training. If you have questions about what exercises may be too intense, talk to your doctor for more information. Generally speaking, pregnant women should avoid high-impact activities that risk bodily injury or falling.
  • For all pregnant women – Pregnant women should avoid exercising outside during hot days or other high-temperature activities like hot yoga. High temperatures can lead to heat stress, heat stroke, and dehydration. At the end of the day, find an exercise at a pace that feels right for you. How you feel, and your doctor’s recommendation should come first.

When exercise is not recommended

Some women may have unique health considerations that should be considered before exercising while pregnant. Every woman’s body is different, and your personal doctor or obstetrician will be able to give you specific, individualized feedback for your unique situation. But if you feel great, then great! You should speak with your doctor if you experience any of the following conditions while pregnant.

  • Pre-existing conditions – Many woman have medical conditions prior to pregnancy, and some may negatively impact the combination of pregnancy and exercise. These conditions include asthma, heart disease, and diabetes. These may produce adverse effects to exercise, therefore, risking yours and your baby’s health.
  • Pregnancy related conditions – Unexpected symptoms and conditions come up during pregnancy, and women may also want to avoid exercising while pregnant if they suffer from pregnancy-related conditions, such as bleeding or spotting, or low placenta.
  • Pregnancy history – If you’ve been pregnant before, and have had issues with recurrent miscarriage, previous premature births, a history of early labor, or a weak cervix, then you might want to think twice about exercising during pregnancy.

Every woman is different, and so is every pregnancy. While the benefits of exercise during pregnancy are laid out here, it’s still wise for a mother to research the best ways to workout. Finding your own routine, within your comfort zone, could be the key to a healthy pregnancy.