Best Pregnancy Exercises
Exercise is Good For Both of You
Whether this is your first pregnancy, second – or sixth - exercising during pregnancy is extremely important. While all the same benefits of exercising hold true for when you are pregnant or not pregnant, there are many reasons why exercising when pregnant should be a top priority for you:
- Regular exercise helps you keep in shape as well as increases your stamina and flexibility. The more in shape and flexible you are during labor the easier your labor and delivery will be. The whole labor process and delivering a baby is hard work. The better shape you are in when you go into labor the faster and easier the delivery will go in all but the rarest cases. Less complications, and an easy delivery, are as important to baby as they are to you. Having strength, stamina and flexibility during labor and delivery is an obvious benefit, and a great motivator to get moving and exercising.
- Exercising while pregnant helps your baby grow and develop. Exercise increases your heart rate, blood circulation (which helps process toxins out of your body), increases your oxygen intake, and also increases your metabolism. Exercise does the same thing for your baby, and in addition to increasing blood circulation, more of the important nutrients are being absorbed by your baby since your body is processing the foods more efficiently while you are exercising.
- Additional benefits to prenatal exercising include a reduction of water retention, reduction in the chances of stretch marks, and more energy. Exercise also helps with the mood swings that occur while pregnant. You will sleep better, have less back pain, and hormones will be more level with regular exercise while pregnant.
- Exercise helps maintain your weight if you are pregnant or not. Regular exercise will keep your body and muscle tones, your cardiovascular system healthy, and give you a head start on loosing your baby weight.
- The better in shape your body is at the time of delivery, the faster and smoother your recovery will be after the baby is born. Regular prenatal exercise has also been found to reduce the episodes and frequency of post-partum depression, especially if mom continues to exercise once baby is here.
Best Prenatal Exercises
There is no doubt that exercise is good for both you and your baby, but it’s imperative to remember that safety comes first. Exercising does not have to be heavy lifting, strenuous exercise, or things of that nature. You will want to watch your heart rate, and be careful not to over-heat. You’ll want to avoid exercises where there is a concern of slipping, falling, becoming off-balance or is hard on your joints, especially as your pregnancy enters its second and third trimester.
- Walking: Taking walks at a brisk or leisurely pace will ensure you do not hurt your knees and ankles. This is a great cardiovascular exercise to do while pregnant, especially because it can be done anytime, anywhere. Walks through a mall, art show, around the block, whenever it is convenient. Always wear comfortable and supportive shoes, same as you would even when you are not pregnant. Since balance is (or will be) an issue, you’ll want to save running and marathon training until after the baby gets here.
- Swimming and Water Aerobics: Getting into the water is a wonderful exercise to do while pregnant. There is very little chance of strain or pulled muscles, and staying balanced isn’t nearly the issue it is when you are on ‘dry land’. The buoyancy of the water helps support your growing tummy, reducing the chance of back strain and aching legs. You are able to do water aerobics or swim, and get a full work out, without over-doing it. Swimming is also wonderful for sore muscles and swollen feet and legs.
- Light Aerobics: Light aerobics, such as stretching, lunges, floor exercises, wall push-ups, and toe touches, to name a few, are all great ways to increase your flexibility and improve your strength and stamina. The stretching will help cure muscle aches and pains while pregnant. Save the stair-step and high intensity work outs for after the baby gets here. Many hospitals offer yoga and light aerobics especially for pregnant women. Sit-ups probably won’t be in your routine, but there are many pelvic and leg lifts that you can do. Just make sure that your back is fully supported by a pillow, a rolled towel, etc. to reduce strain.
- Exercise Machines: Treadmills, elliptical machines, stationary recumbent bikes, and stair steppers let you get a pregnancy-friendly aerobic workout in safely. Watch your posture to limit back strain (which is why the recumbent bikes are great; leaning against the backrest all but eliminates the chances of back strain), and use the handrails.
Always check with your doctor first before doing any exercises, especially when pregnant, to find out dos, don’ts, and what parameters you should follow for your heart rate, etc. If you were involved in a regular exercise routine prior to getting pregnant, you’ll probably find that you can do most everything you did before you were pregnant if you are creative and limit the intensity of your exercises. If you were not involved in regular exercise before your pregnancy, be careful not to overdo it! Consult with your doctor before starting exercise, and use common sense. If you didn’t work out before you were pregnant, you shouldn’t jump into an hour a day, seven days a week – your muscles, back, and stamina won’t react too positively to the change. Don’t let any pre-pregnancy non-existent exercise routine discourage you though; a little common sense and regular exercise goes a long way to a healthy pregnancy, an easier delivery, and a faster recovery time.
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