3 Great Reasons to Exercise During Pregnancy

Is It OK To Exercise During Pregnancy? Yes! Here’s Why You Should

Maybe you’re a gym bunny or have exercised regularly for years. Now you’re pregnant. Should you stop exercising altogether? You really don’t have to. Exercise can keep you and your baby healthy, so you don’t have to toss your workout gear aside until your baby’s born. Just stay safe out there. Here’s what you need to know about pregnancy and fitness, as well as the benefits you can gain from exercise.

Exercise Prevents Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a condition that can occur during pregnancy. It refers to when hormones that are released for your baby’s development prevent your own insulin from being released. This puts a lot of pressure on your body to produce this important hormone, according to Diabetes Australia. Although gestational diabetes tends to go away after giving birth, it does put pregnant mums at risk of getting Type 2 diabetes in the future.

Exercising improves your body’s sensitivity to insulin, and gentle exercise is enough during pregnancy to stave off gestational diabetes. Great examples of exercise include swimming, water aerobics, or walking. A thirty-minute walk daily is perfect for helping you relax during pregnancy while improving your health. Bear in mind that your blood pressure drops during the second trimester of pregnancy, so avoid quick changes in position, such as fast bending movements during exercise, that can cause dizziness during this time.

Exercise Prevents Pain

You know that safe exercise during pregnancy is not only beneficial but also makes you feel good. Endorphins boost your mood while also decreasing pain, such as back pain which is common during pregnancy. In fact, research from the University of Sydney published in the JAMA Internal Medicine Journal found that any type of exercise decreases the risk of repeated lower back pain by up to 40 percent!

Exercise Helps You Sleep

Insomnia during pregnancy can happen for a variety of reasons, such as stress and fears associated with labour. Exercise can help you get a better night’s sleep by using up excess energy that can make you restless at night. However, never push yourself so hard that you’re out of breath – your baby needs oxygen from you and could be put at risk. Any vigorous exercise should last for less than 20 minutes. Make sure your heart rate remains below 140 beats per minute (or 125 beats per minute if you’re exercising in water). This is because your resting heart rate increases during pregnancy, so you want to keep it at a healthy level.

Exercise Makes Labour Easier

Exercise doesn’t only keep you healthy during pregnancy – it can also help you when you give birth. To prep for labour, you should be doing pelvic floor exercises specifically to get the most benefits. When your pelvic floor muscles are toned, this enables a safer and easier labour. According to the Pregnancy to Parenting Australia site, during labour these muscles help the baby move through the birth canal, increasing in size to accommodate your baby’s birth. If these pelvic muscles are toned before you give birth, they make your pushing efforts much more effective, resulting in a shorter and less stressful labour.

However, there are some things you need to be careful about when you’re exercising during pregnancy.

It’s really important not to overexert yourself. Don’t get too hot as this can dehydrate you and your baby, and avoid any exercise that can injure you, such as contact sports. Stay in tune with your body. As mentioned by Sports Medicine Australia, if you experience symptoms such as a high heart rate, headache, dizziness, vaginal bleeding, contractions, amniotic fluid leakage, feeling faint, back or pelvic pain, swelling (such as of hands, face or ankles), nausea, shortness of breath, or the feeling that your baby’s not moving as much, you should stop exercising immediately and consult your doctor.

Exercise has many benefits during pregnancy, so if it’s an important part of your life you don’t have to quit it altogether. As long as you keep yourself and your baby safe, there’s no reason why some light to moderate exercise can’t be part of this exciting time.

By Jane Sandwood

About Katrina Zaslavsky

Katrina is an inspired international author, speaker and voice for women. A former public health professional turned mum on a mission and now editor, coach and practitioner, she is making positive waves across the globe as founder of Birth Goddess, committed to being a part of the “Positive Birth Revolution” and empowering women for motherhood.
Her book, A Modern Woman’s Guide to a Natural Empowering Birth, is a collection of inspiring birth stories (afterword by Dr Sarah Buckley MD) and shares how she overcame her extreme fears of childbirth and discovered inner peace and power she didn’t know she had. One of her biggest personal revelations that she would love to shout from every rooftop? “When birth is no longer feared, numbed or endured it has the opportunity to become one of the most powerful, positive and transformative things a woman will ever experience in her lifetime."

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