Women are encouraged to start or continue exercising during pregnancy to reap the benefits, stay fit and prepare for labor and delivery. Regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle will help you stay healthy and fit throughout your pregnancy. Exercise also improves posture and alleviates discomforts such as back pain and lethargy.
Why is exercise vital during pregnancy?
Regular exercise can help relieve back pain, constipation, bloating, and swelling. It improves our mood, our energy level and the quality of our sleep. It promotes muscle tone, strength and endurance while preventing excessive weight gain. Exercise promotes cardiovascular fitness, improves balance and posture, and reduces stress, anxiety, and depression. It also keeps blood pressure stable and prevents gestational diabetes mellitus. It encourages vaginal delivery and decreases caesarean/operative delivery. It also helps with postpartum recovery and reduces urinary incontinence. Pregnant women should engage in at least four to five days a week of moderate-intensity physical activity such as brisk walking or yoga.
Recommended exercises during pregnancy?
Excessive strain can lead to overheating which can affect the baby’s development. Therefore, it is suggested to do moderate intensity workouts. Low impact exercises are safe and beneficial. Walking is a great exercise for beginners. It provides moderate aerobic condition with minimal stress on the joints. Resistance exercises with relatively low weights/resistance bands, stretching exercises, yoga, and pelvic floor muscle training are great exercises that can be done during pregnancy.
Can all pregnant women play sports?
All women with an uncomplicated pregnancy can exercise regularly. Women with severe complications are also advised not to do moderate workouts. These are women with severe anemia, heart disease, severe hypertension, women diagnosed with placenta previa or who have had episodes of unexplained bleeding. Avoid all activities where injury or pressure on the abdomen is likely.
Advice to follow during pregnancy
Don’t overwork yourself and aim for 150 minutes of moderate exercise over a week. Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. Wear loose, breathable clothing, keep your heart rate below 150 bpm, and remember to warm up. Do not train for more than 60 minutes at a time.
Exercises to avoid throughout pregnancy
* Avoid lying on your back for more than 10 minutes
* Avoid high impact exercises or activities that can lead to a heavy fall
* Avoid heavy lifting, hot pilates
* Avoid exercising at a higher altitude
* Avoid contact sports
Balanced exercise can help cope with the physical changes of pregnancy and build endurance for the challenges ahead. Continue to exercise during pregnancy to benefit. Beginners can use pregnancy as motivation to start exercising.