Exercise for pregnant women can be interesting for some women and very challenging for some women. Exercise for pregnant women is an important factor if you want a safe and stress-free delivery. Just as our faces are different, so is the nature of our bodies. Exercise is very safe for women, but for some women, it can cause more harm than good. Consult your doctor before you embark on your exercise journey during pregnancy.
Exercising during pregnancy can be of great help to your health and that of your baby because it makes you both feel healthy, good and at your very best. Exercise for pregnant women also helps reduces common problems during pregnancy like backaches, discomfort and fatigue.
Exercise for pregnant women can also help relieve stress, prevent the development of diabetes during pregnancy, and also helps give you strength and stamina for delivery time. Experts advise that it is important to keep your body moving during pregnancy because of the great advantage it adds to you and your baby’s health.
Exercise for pregnant women does not necessarily mean having fancy equipment or going to the gym. Exercise can be done right in the comfort of your home or environment.
If you were physically active before you got pregnant, pregnancy should not stop you from continuously being active, but with modification or caution. You can keep exercising as long as you are comfortable with it and you have your doctor’s approval. But if you have never exercised before, you can safely start an exercise program that is safe for pregnant women after talking to your doctor.
If you are new to exercise for pregnant women, do not try difficult and strenuous exercises.
How Frequently Should You Exercise?
Healthy exercise for pregnant women should be done at least 3 hours weekly. Aerobic exercise helps you breathe deeply and it makes your heart beat faster. Do a moderate intensity of aerobic exercise, just enough to make you sweat and increase your heartbeat. You must not do the whole 3 hours at once, you can split it up into bits by doing 30 minutes daily. You can also split up the 30 minutes to 10minutes 3 times daily.
Who Should Not Exercise?
Yes exercise is great for pregnancy, and there are good exercise for pregnant women to practice, but exercising during pregnancy is not for everybody. As stated before, for some women exercise does more harm than good.
People with medical conditions like diabetes, weak cervix, asthma, bleeding or spotting and heart disease are not advised to exercise during pregnancy if you have the below listed medical condition, aerobic exercise during pregnancy should be avoided:
- Hemodynamically significant heart disease
- Ruptured membranes
- Restrictive lung disease
- Placenta previa after 26 weeks of gestation
- Multiple gestations at risk for premature labour
- Incompetent cervix/cerclage
- Premature labour during the current pregnancy
- Preeclampsia/pregnancy-induced hypertension
- Persistent second- or third-trimester bleeding
Exercise with precaution if you are doing aerobic exercise during pregnancy if you have the below medical issues:
- Severe anaemia
- Unevaluated maternal cardiac arrhythmia
- Chronic bronchitis
- Poorly controlled type 1 diabetes
- Extreme morbid obesity
- Extreme underweight (BMI <12)
- History of an extremely sedentary lifestyle
- Intrauterine growth restriction in the current pregnancy
- Poorly controlled hypertension
- Orthopaedic limitations
- Poorly controlled seizure disorder
- Poorly controlled hyperthyroidism
- Heavy smoker
I can’t overemphasize this “always consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program”.
Before you start exercising, here are the guidelines and what you will need to kickoff:
- Wear comfortable clothes that are loose fittings, with a good bra to support the breast and chest.
- Exercise on flat surfaces to prevent getting injured.
- Wear properly designed shoes for exercise.
- Take enough calories to meet the needs of your pregnancy.
Stick with me as I take you through the best and most comfortable exercise for pregnant women.
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Exercise For Pregnant Women.
Swimming Exercise For Pregnant Women:
Swimming is a perfect aerobic pregnancy exercise that helps you and your baby. Swimming helps support the weight of your baby because you weigh less in the water than on the land, making you feel agile and lighter and at the same time helps keep your heart rate up. It also helps reduce those lower back pain, swollen ankle and joints pain. Do not dive or jump into the water, rather step in carefully.
Walking Exercise For Pregnant Women:
Even if you are new to exercise, walking is a great activity that does not strain your joints or muscles, instead, it relieves them of tension. Walking is so easy and it can fit into your tight schedule. It is an exercise that can be done from week 1 of your pregnancy to the delivery day. Walking also helps with contractions. All you need is the good sneaker.
Cycling Exercise For Pregnant Women:
Cycling is a great exercise during pregnancy. Cycling outside can be fun because you get to feel the cool breeze running through your face. But it is safer if you do indoor cycling during pregnancy because you are less likely to fall off the bike or bump into potholes which can be very risky for you and your growing baby. Indoor cycling lets you padel at your own pace without you putting pressure on your joints and ankle.
Running Exercise For Pregnant Women:
Going a little faster is only for experienced runners. With the doctor’s permission, an experienced runner can still stay on track during pregnancy. Do not overdo it because loose joints during pregnancy can make running harder on the knees thereby making you more prone to injury.
Stairs Climbing Exercise For Pregnant Women:
Climbing the stairs is a good exercise during pregnancy. It keeps your heart healthy, but at your pregnancy progresses, you have to be careful to avoid stumbles.
Dancing Exercise For Pregnant Women:
Dancing is a good workout like Zumba dancing or waining the waist. Dancing helps keep up your heart rate. You do not have to dance until you get exhausted.
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Yoga Exercise For Pregnant Women:
Let your yoga instructor know you are pregnant so that he/she can adjust or avoid poses that can be harmful to you or your baby. Below are some yoga you can try:
Lie on your right side, head supported by your forearm, right leg bent at a 45-degree angle and left leg straight. Place your opposite arm on the floor for stability. Lift left leg to about hip height and repeat for reps.
Then, bend your left knee and rest it on top of pillows for support. Straighten your right leg and lift it as high as possible for reps. Switch sides and repeat for reps.
Strengthens: Core and inner thighs.
Get down on your hands and knees, wrists directly under your shoulders. Lift your knees and straighten your legs behind you until your body forms a straight line. Don’t arch your back or let your belly sag.
Hold for 1 to 2 breaths, working up to 5 breaths.
Strengthens: Core, arms and back.
Stand parallel to the back of a sturdy chair with the hand closest to the chair resting on it, feet parallel and hip distance apart.
With your toes and knees turned out to 45 degrees, pull your belly button up and in. Bend your knees, lowering your torso as low as possible while keeping your back straight. Straighten your legs to return to starting position. Repeat for reps.
Strengthens: Quadriceps, hamstrings and butt. Improves balance.
Curl and Lift: Sit on the edge of a sturdy chair with your back straight, feet on the floor, arms at your sides. Hold a 5- to 8-pound weight in each hand, palms facing your body. Bend your elbows so your arms form a 90-degree angle.
Then, keeping your elbows bent, lift the weights to shoulder height. Lower your arms to your sides, then straighten to return to starting position. Repeat for reps.
Strengthens: Biceps and shoulders.
One-Arm Row: Using a sturdy chair, place your right knee on the seat, and your left foot on the floor. Bend for-ward, back parallel to the floor and place your right hand on the seat. Hold a 5- to 8-pound weight in your left hand, arm extended down and in line with your shoulder, palm facing in.
Bend your left elbow up so that your arm forms a 90-degree angle. Hold, then return to starting position. Repeat for reps, then switch sides.
Strengthens: Back, biceps and triceps.
Stretching Exercise For Pregnant Women:
Stretching is advised just before you start any major exercise because it helps your body warm-up and keeps your muscles limber. Below are a list of stretch exercise you can try:
- Neck Rotation: Doing neck rotation helps relieve tension in the neck and shoulders. Bring your head down, then start rotating it from the left shoulder up to the back then to the right shoulder and back to the front. Repeat slowly at least 4 times. Go clockwise and anti clockwise
- Shoulder Rotation: Rotating the shoulder retains a range of motion. It helps free does shoulder joints. Raise your hands up above your head, take it all the way to the back, then down, forward and up again. Repeat the process at least 4 times. You might feel those cracking sounds.
- Swimming Rotation: Swimming helps with flexibility, which helps reduce tension in the muscles. Bring your right arm up and extend your body forward while twisting to the side, as if you were swimming the crawl stroke. Repeat with the left arm, and complete this sequence 10 times.
- Thigh Shift: Keeping your legs limber and flexible can help maintain balance as your pregnancy progresses. To do a thigh shift, start by standing with one foot about two feet in front of the other, toes pointed forward. Lean forward with your body weight supported by your front thigh. Change sides and repeat. Complete four stretches on each side.
- Leg Shake: A leg shake can help maintain circulation. Sit down with your legs and feet extended. Move your legs up and down in a gentle shaking motion.
- Ankle Rotation: Foot and ankle swelling during pregnancy is common and ankle rotations can help with circulation and may reduce some fluid buildup. Sit with legs extended and toes relaxed. Rotate your feet in large circles using your whole foot and ankle. Rotate four times on the right and four times on the left.
- Kegel Exercises: It is also important to exercise the muscles supporting your bladder, uterus, and bowels. Kegel exercises target these muscle groups and strengthening them during pregnancy can help you control these muscles during labor and birth. To do Kegel exercises that target the pelvic floor, imagine you are trying to stop the flow of urine or trying not to pass gas. Try not to move your legs, buttocks, or abdominal muscles. Kegels are so subtle no one should notice you are doing them. Contract the muscles and hold for a slow count of five, then relax. Repeat 10 times for one set. Do 3-5 sets per day. If you are unsure about how to do the exercises, ask your doctor.
- Tailor Exercises: Tailor exercises can help relieve low back pain by strengthening the pelvic, hip, and thigh muscles. To perform a tailor sit, sit on the floor with your knees bent and ankles crossed. Lean forward slightly, keeping your back relaxed and straight. You can use this position throughout the day whenever possible.
- To perform a tailored press: sit on the floor with knees bent and the soles of your feet touching. Hold onto your ankles and gently pull your feet toward your body. Place your hands under your knees and inhale. Press your knees down against your hands, and at the same time press your hands up against your knees for counter-pressure. Hold for a count of five.
I hope this article has been helpful in your pregnancy journey. Wishing you a healthy baby and safe delivery.
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