Pregnancy is a transformative journey that brings about numerous changes to a woman’s body, both physically and emotionally. While rest and self-care are essential during this time, maintaining a regular exercise routine can provide a multitude of benefits for both the mother and the developing baby. Contrary to popular belief, exercise during pregnancy is not only safe but highly recommended by healthcare professionals. We will explore the various benefits of working out during pregnancy and shed light on the exercises that are particularly beneficial for expectant mothers.
This is why you should workout during your pregnancy
Exercising during pregnancy offers a wide range of physical, emotional, and health benefits for both the mother and the developing baby. Here are some compelling reasons why working out during pregnancy is important:
1. Boosts mood and reduces stress: Pregnancy can often be accompanied by hormonal changes that might lead to mood swings and heightened stress levels. Engaging in regular exercise stimulates the release of endorphins, which are known as “feel-good” hormones. These endorphins help alleviate stress and anxiety, promoting a more positive outlook and overall emotional well-being.
2. Increases energy levels: As pregnancy progresses, fatigue can become a constant companion. However, incorporating light to moderate exercise into your routine can help combat this fatigue and increase energy levels. Regular physical activity improves blood circulation, delivering oxygen and nutrients to cells more efficiently, which in turn boosts energy levels.
3. Promotes healthy weight gain: Gaining an appropriate amount of weight during pregnancy is crucial for the health of both the mother and the baby. Engaging in a well-rounded exercise routine helps regulate weight gain by maintaining muscle tone, increasing metabolism, and preventing excessive weight gain. This can also contribute to an easier postpartum recovery.
4. Supports muscle strength and endurance: Your body changes to accommodate the growing baby, maintaining muscle strength and endurance becomes important. Exercises that focus on the pelvic floor, back muscles, and core can help improve posture, reduce back pain, and prepare the body for the physical demands of labor and delivery.
5. Enhances circulation and reduces swelling: Swelling, particularly in the legs and ankles, is a common discomfort during pregnancy due to increased blood volume and pressure on blood vessels. Regular exercise aids in improving blood circulation, reducing fluid retention, and minimizing swelling.
6. Facilitates faster recovery and labor: Staying active during pregnancy can contribute to an easier labor and faster recovery. Women who exercise throughout their pregnancy often experience shorter and less complicated labors. Additionally, maintaining strong muscles and flexibility can aid in a smoother recovery postpartum.
7. Improved sleep quality: Pregnancy hormones and physical discomfort can sometimes lead to disrupted sleep patterns. Regular exercise can promote better sleep quality by helping the body relax, reducing restlessness, and enhancing overall sleep duration.
8. Social interaction and emotional support: Participating in prenatal exercise classes or activities provides a platform for expectant mothers to interact with other women going through similar experiences. This social interaction can offer emotional support, camaraderie, and a sense of community.
Try these pregnancy exercises
Exercising during pregnancy can be highly beneficial for both your physical and mental well-being. It’s essential, however, to prioritize safety and choose exercises that are appropriate for your stage of pregnancy. Here are some safe and effective pregnancy exercises you can do at home:
-> Pelvic floor exercises: These exercises help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which support your bladder, uterus, and bowels.
How to do it: Sit or lie down comfortably. Squeeze your pelvic floor muscles (as if you’re stopping the flow of urine) and hold for a count of three to five seconds. Release and relax for the same amount of time. Repeat this 10-15 times for a few sets throughout the day.
-> Deep breathing and relaxation: These exercises can help reduce stress and improve your overall well-being during pregnancy.
How to do it: Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Take slow, deep breaths in through your nose, allowing your belly to rise. Exhale slowly through your mouth. Focus on relaxing your body and releasing tension as you breathe deeply. This can be especially helpful for managing anxiety or preparing for labor.
-> Prenatal yoga: Prenatal yoga focuses on gentle stretching, relaxation, and breathing exercises.
How to do it: Follow along with prenatal yoga videos or classes designed specifically for pregnant women. These routines typically include poses and stretches that are safe during pregnancy, emphasizing flexibility and strength.
-> Prenatal Pilates: Prenatal Pilates exercises can help strengthen your core and improve posture.
How to do it: Similar to prenatal yoga, you can find online videos or classes tailored for expectant mothers. These workouts often involve low-impact movements that target the abdominal muscles and improve overall stability.
-> Walking: A simple and safe exercise during pregnancy is walking. It’s easy to do at home, either on a treadmill or around your neighborhood.
How to do it: Put on comfortable shoes and walk at a pace that allows you to maintain a conversation without becoming breathless. Aim for at least 30 minutes of walking most days of the week.
-> Light strength training: Using light dumbbells or resistance bands, you can perform gentle strength-training exercises.
How to do it: Focus on exercises that target major muscle groups, such as bicep curls, seated rows, and squats. Use light weights and perform higher repetitions to avoid straining your muscles.
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