You’re eating for two, your body’s changing shape, and you’re not sleeping well at night.
Pregnancy changes everything. Preparing healthy foods, getting to doctor appointments and decorating the nursery are taking up much of your extra time these days, but don’t forget to take time to exercise.
Many women miss out on the health benefits offered by exercise when they’re pregnant because they simply don’t get out and get moving.
But before you go at the weights hard and heavy, it’s important that you realize that not just any old type of exercise is safe during pregnancy.
Keep reading to learn why and how you should exercise during the nine months leading up to the arrival of your little bundle of joy.
Why exercise? Your feet are tired and your back is aching. The last thing you feel like doing is working out, but it’s one of the best ways to look and feel your best throughout pregnancy, while also helping to take care of your developing baby.
It’s been found that women who exercise while pregnant gain less weight over the course of their pregnancy. Average-weight women should expect to gain 25 to 35 lbs. and overweight women should only gain 15 to 25 lbs. when pregnant. The more weight you gain, the more you have to lose after the baby comes.
Exercise also reduces your risk of developing gestational diabetes by nearly 30%.
Gestational diabetes increases the likelihood of a big baby or preterm delivery and puts you at risk for Type 2 diabetes later in life.
Staying active while pregnant may even make labor and delivery easier and shorter.
A woman who’s in shape has more stamina, flexibility, and strength during the pushing stage and recovery. Studies show you’re also much less likely to require a C-section, episiotomy or forceps delivery when physically fit prior to childbirth.
Need more reasons to workout?
Exercising while pregnant will help relieve constipation, reduce swelling in your legs and feet, and enables you to bounce back sooner after delivery.
Exercise is known to boost your mood, increase energy, improve sleep, strengthen the immune system and relieve depression whether you’re pregnant or not.
What exercises? There are safe and not-so-safe exercises while you’re pregnant. Always check with your doctor before beginning a new workout routine.
Anyone new to the world of exercise should remember to start off slow and easy and gradually increase the intensity and duration of workouts. For the majority of moms-to-be, there are five ideal exercises.
1. Power walking or trail walking is a great go-to workout for pregnant women.
It’s easy and can be done anywhere, anytime. All you need is a supportive pair of shoes. Walking is good for your lungs, heart and muscle tone. Your speed, incline and distance can be adjusted to your fitness level. Take the dog for a daily walk, invite a friend to join you, or walk on the treadmill at home or the gym.
2. Weight training is a second workout for pregnant ladies. Work with your personal trainer to develop a routine that’s safe for you and baby. Whether you use free weights, weight machines or your own body weight, you’ll increase your muscle strength and tone those trouble areas.
3 & 4. Both yoga and Pilates have developed special prenatal workouts meant to increase strength and stamina and promote relaxation. Sign up for a class or use a workout video.
5. Water exercises provide some of the comfortable workouts for pregnant women – especially if you always feel hot. Find relief from your achy back, heavy belly and swollen ankles while improving your fitness in the pool. Check to see if your gym offers prenatal water aerobics classes or just tread water, swim laps or walk around in the shallow end.
No matter what exercises you go with, run them by your physician to ensure you’re not putting yourself in harm’s way. And adopt an attitude that doesn’t accept lying around. You’re pregnant, not dead! Remember, a healthy momma helps create a healthy baby.
No can do! Unsafe exercises while pregnant include contact sports, those that come with a risk of falling, exercise that requires you to lie on your back or hold your breath for extended periods, and those done in hot temperatures.
Jack Wheeler is a personal trainer and owner of 360 Fitness in Red Deer.