Pregnancy is a time of great change for a woman’s body. As your baby grows, your body will need to adjust to accommodate its increasing weight. This can be a challenge, but it’s important to stay active during pregnancy.
Exercise can help you to maintain your strength and fitness, and it can also help to reduce the risk of complications during pregnancy and childbirth.
The NHS recommends to maintain your normal daily physical activity or exercise, such as walking, running, yoga, or dancing, for as long as you feel comfortable.
As a general guideline, the recommendation is to do 150 minutes of exercise per week, and if you feel that’s too much then to start with 10 minutes a day until you get into a routine and build up your activity levels gradually.
Staying active doesn’t have to be strenuous to be beneficial, and 30 minutes of walking each day can be enough.
If you’ve been taking part in regular activities pre-pregnancy exercises such as brisk walking, swimming, water aerobics, spinning, yoga, pilates, strength training, jogging, or running are safe to continue during your pregnancy.
Before starting a new exercise program during pregnancy, it’s important to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts.
Always check in with your midwifery team/doctor beforehand too as they can discuss a routine with you that is suitable and most comfortable for you and your pregnancy journey.
Here are some of the benefits of exercise during pregnancy:
- Improved cardiovascular health. Exercise helps to strengthen your heart and lungs, which can help to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Reduced risk of gestational diabetes. Exercise can help to control your blood sugar levels, which can help to reduce your risk of developing gestational diabetes.
- Reduced risk of preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a serious pregnancy complication that can cause high blood pressure, protein in the urine, and swelling. Exercise can help to reduce your risk of developing preeclampsia.
- Improve blood flow to the placenta. The placenta is the organ that provides oxygen and nutrients to the baby. Improved blood flow to the placenta can help to ensure that the baby is getting the nutrients it needs.
- Reduce stress and risk of premature labour. Exercise can help to reduce stress by releasing endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. In turn this could reduce the risk of premature labour.
- Easier labour and birth. Exercise can help to strengthen your muscles and improve your flexibility, which may make labour and birth easier.
Staying active during pregnancy can also provide further benefits like reducing backaches, constipation, bloating, and swelling, as well as helping to prevent or treat gestational diabetes.
In general, exercise is a great way to help increase energy levels, improve mood, posture, muscle tone, strength, and endurance, and help with sleep.
Try these fun and easy exercises during your pregnancy:
Walking is a great way to get started with exercise during pregnancy. It’s low-impact and easy on your joints. Start by walking for 15 minutes a day and gradually increase the duration and intensity of your walks.
Dancing is a great way to get some exercise and have fun at the same time. Find a local prenatal dance class, or play some of your favourite music and dance at home.
Swimming is a great way to exercise during pregnancy because it’s weight-bearing and it helps to cool you down. Start by swimming for 15 minutes a day and gradually increase the duration and intensity of your swims.
Yoga is a great way to improve your flexibility and strength during pregnancy. There are many different types of yoga that are safe for pregnant women.
Water aerobics is a great way to get some exercise without putting any stress on your joints. It’s a great way to cool off on a hot day, and it can help to improve your cardiovascular health.
Pilates is a great way to improve your core strength during pregnancy. Pilates exercises are low-impact and easy on your joints. Start by taking a prenatal Pilates class or by doing Pilates at home.
Guidelines for Safe Exercise During Pregnancy
- Avoid activities with a high risk of falling or abdominal trauma, such as contact sports, skiing, and horseback riding.
- Avoid exercises that require lying flat on your back after the first trimester, as this can reduce blood flow to the uterus.
- Avoid exercises that involve jumping, sudden changes in direction, or rapid movements.
- Avoid exercises that cause pain, discomfort, or shortness of breath.
- Stay hydrated and avoid overheating. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise, and avoid exercising in hot and humid conditions.
- Wear comfortable, supportive clothing and shoes that fit well.
- Start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your exercise program.
- Listen to your body and rest when you need to. Don’t push yourself too hard!
No matter what type of exercise you choose, it’s important to listen to your body and to stop if you feel any pain. Exercise should be enjoyable, so find something that you like to do and that you can stick with.
Want to know more about staying fit and healthy during pregnancy? Join The Parents Class
If you’d like to find more ways to stay active during your pregnancy, register an account on Our Community today and join our Exercise during pregnancy group. Here you’ll find lots of other parents-to-be who can share their tips and ideas on safe ways to stay active in your pregnancy, whilst still having fun.