New Delhi: Maintaining a regular exercise routine during pregnancy can help you stay healthy and can have a positive impact on both the mother and baby. According to experts, being physically active during pregnancy can help reduce some common discomforts such as backaches and fatigue. Women with normal pregnancies are advised to get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days. In fact, more women than ever are taking that advice, making fitness a part of their daily routine. There are plenty of health perks to exercising for two.
As long as you exercise with caution and do not overdo it, most exercises are good to perform during pregnancy. Do everything in moderation, never exercise to the point of exhaustion. The safest and productive exercises are swimming, brisk walking, stationary cycling, elliptical, pranayama (breathing exercises), lightweight training, Kegel exercise, etc.
Exercises for pregnant women
Any exercise or environment that raises a pregnant woman’s body temperature more than 1.5 degrees F should be avoided since it causes blood to be shunted away from the uterus to the skin as the body attempts to cool off, said CK Pramod, a leading personal fitness trainer, who has also listed some of the best exercises for pregnant women.
- Practising yoga during pregnancy is one of the best ways to keep your mind in balance. If you have never practised yoga before, start with prenatal yoga for a while, you should be able to continue your regular yoga practice with a few modifications.
- The squat is one of the best exercises to keep you healthy and make you feel better during pregnancy, provided you do not overdo them. Strong legs are a must when it comes to labour and the final push to give birth. When you squat to induce labour, it creates more room for the baby to move down into the birth canal. Squats are fine but avoid lunges and deep knee bends because your joints will be more prone to injury.
- Kegel exercise helps strengthen your pelvic floor, the muscle group that controls all the flow of urine and the contraction of the vagina and anal sphincter. One of the many benefits of doing your Kegels is that they prevent urinary incontinence, a pretty common complaint in late pregnancy and during postpartum.
- A pregnant body is more prone to muscle cramps in the legs and stretching can help you to overcome it. Also, you can do it anywhere, anytime – even if you spend most of your day sitting down.
- One needs to be careful while jumping and running during pregnancy as it can hurt the baby. Use lighter weights with more reps during pregnancy to avoid overloading joints already loosened by increased levels of hormone relaxin during pregnancy.
The benefits of exercise for mom
Exercise may prevent gestational diabetes, a growing problem among pregnant women. It causes your brain to release endorphins, those happy chemicals that give you a natural high-improving your mood, diminishing stress and anxiety. A strong set of abs is the best defence against back pain, which plagues many pregnant women. But even exercise that is not directly targeting the tummy can also relieve back pain and pressure.
An active body encourages active bowels. Moms who exercise tend to have shorter labours and delivery interventions, including C-sections. The more fit you stay during pregnancy, the faster you will recover physically after childbirth. Many pregnant women have a hard time falling asleep, but those who exercise consistently often sleep better and wake up feeling more rested. A little exercise can go a long way in boosting your energy levels. Being pregnant can be stressful and leave you vulnerable to mood swings and exercise can definitely help put you in better spirits.
The benefits of exercise for the baby
Exercise is just as good for your baby as it is for you for years to come. Babies are also stimulated by the sounds and vibrations they experience in the womb during workouts. Babies of moms who exercise during pregnancy are born at a healthier weight and recover from the stress of birth more quickly. Research shows that babies of moms who exercise throughout pregnancy score higher, on average, on general intelligence tests, have stable heart rates during and after labour and have a more active brain function.
If you are abstaining from exercise on your doctor’s advice, you are helping your baby and yourself. Your doctor may restrict exercise if you have a history of miscarriages or of premature labour, or if you have an incompetent cervix, bleeding or persistent spotting in the second or third trimester, heart disease, high blood pressure, asthma, anaemia, etc.
A few dos and don’ts to remember
- Keep yourself well-hydrated. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise.
- Don’t stretch if anything is uncomfortable
- Start slow and gradually increase your workout
- Take regular breaks
- Be sure to wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothes
- Finish eating at least one hour before exercising
- Check with your expert before engaging in any exercise
- High-impact exercises like jumping, hopping, bouncing, skiing, etc
- Sports such as football, basketball, volleyball or gymnastics and avoid overstretching
- Exercises which involve balancing, such as cycling, aerobics, ballet, especially in later pregnancy
- Once you reach 16 weeks of pregnancy, skip exercises that involve lying flat on your back, or standing in one place for long periods
- Exercise in hot, humid weather
- Overstretch your abdominal muscles
- Do not exercise to the point of exhaustion
Always check with your Gynaecologist before you begin an exercise programme.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purpose only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a dietician before starting any fitness programme or making any changes to your diet.