Can you exercise during pregnancy?

Can you exercise during pregnancy

Yes. Exercising while pregnant is perfectly safe and healthy for both you, and your baby – with pregnancy related recommendations. Read on to find out more about exercising during pregnancy.

There are numerous benefits to being active and fit during pregnancy. It can help keep you healthy during your pregnancy and have a positive impact on the outcomes for your baby’s wellbeing too.

In this blog, we look at which exercises are recommended during pregnancy and the benefits associated, as well as routines to avoid.

Why you should exercise during pregnancy

Exercising during pregnancy isn’t just about staying in shape and watching your weight. It’s also about preparing your body and mind for changes, throughout your pregnancy and right until the birth of your baby.

It’s no secret that your body is going to change drastically throughout the course of your pregnancy to accommodate your growing baby. The healthier you are, the easier it can be for your body to adapt and change.

It’s recommended that pregnant women should do at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day. Don’t worry if you weren’t active before your pregnancy, be sure to take it easy and begin with simple and short exercises. Build up slowly – now isn’t the time to run a marathon. If you’re used to regular exercise, keep it up but don’t push yourself too hard. Don’t forget, listen to your body.

What exercises you should do during pregnancy

  • Walking – Taking a short walk is a great way to gradually build up stamina and maintain a healthy weight, without causing muscle strain.
  • Swimming – Water workouts use many of your body’s muscles to build up strength, and is a great way to reduce strain as the water supports the weight of your growing baby.
  • Yoga and Pilates – Exercise doesn’t just have to be fast-paced and physical. This activity comes with a lot of benefits – both physically and mentaly. Allowing yourself to enter a calm environment, you’ll be able to reduce stress, focus on breathing techniques and gradually build up your flexibility. If you attend classes or have an instructor, be sure to inform them you are pregnant, as some positions may be uncomfortable. You could even try pregnancy yoga, which is a great way to prepare for labour.
  • Pelvic exercisesFloor and tilt exercises can help strengthen muscles in the pelvic area,  which comes under heavy strain during pregnancy and labour. 
  • Strengthening training – This can help to ease back pain, which is a common problem during pregnancy.

Remember to always warm up before exercising and cooldown afterwards as this will help your heart rate return close to a safe resting state. Drink plenty of fluids to maintain hydration too.

How exercise helps during pregnancy

There are lots of benefits to being active while pregnant. It can often ease common pregnancy issues such as back pain.

Exercise can:

  • Strengthen both physically and mentally. While physical activity helps maintain your core strength, you’ll be able to increase your self esteem, mood and energy levels with the release of mood boosting endorphins.
  • Reduce discomfort from pregnancy such as back pain, swelling, fatigue and constipation. 
  • Maintain a good and healthy weight during your pregnancy.
  • Help to build up muscle and body strength, tone and stamina.
  • Improve fitness.
  • Sleep better.

Exercise to avoid during pregnancy

Not all exercises are recommended during pregnancy as they can put you and your baby at higher risk of injury. 

This can include…

  • Any sort of sport where you risk being hit in the stomach, like football, kickboxing or tennis.
  • Activities that involve jarring motions or bouncing, as you’ll be at a higher risk of falling, like horse riding, off-road cycling, ice skating or gymnastics.
  • Sports that involve altitude changes, as this can cause altitude sickness and issues with breathing. On the other hand, be wary of scuba diving, as you may be at risk of decompression complications.
  • Any exercises that require you to lie down on your back for a long period of time, as this can restrict blood circulation. 

Other elements to your body which can be affected by pregnancy are balance, heart rate, breathing and energy. When exercising, you should be able to hold a conversation throughout the routine. If you can’t, you may need to slow down as it may be too demanding. It’s really important for you to listen to your body and do what feels comfortable.

Physical activity isn’t safe for everyone during pregnancy, so be sure to check with medical professionals if you are unsure or have any questions. 

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