Pregnancy causes countless changes in a mother’s body, such as weight gain, joint loosening, and decreased balance. What’s the best way to compensate for these changes? Plenty of exercise! The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week for expectant mothers.
Benefits of Exercise during Pregnancy
Exercise is an important part of staying fit all the time, but it’s an especially important part of health for pregnant women—both for mother and baby. Beyond simply helping new moms maintain healthy weight, regular exercise offers multiple benefits:
- Better sleep
- Improved mood and self-image
- Strengthened muscles, which helps prepare the body for labor
- Prevention of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia
- Lowered risk of pre-term delivery
Exercising during pregnancy generally makes labor easier, and women who exercise often find it easier to lose the “baby weight” after giving birth. Meanwhile, mothers who exercise during pregnancy also tend to have babies that are a healthy weight and less prone to diabetes and other health conditions.
What’s Safe for Expectant Mothers
Often pregnant women can maintain their regular workout routine, at least during the first 24 weeks. After that, some activities will be more difficult and can increase the woman’s risk for injury. The ideal workout combines cardiovascular exercise with strength and flexibility training. Before you start, consult your doctor about any risk factors. Experts recommend the following exercises for pregnant women:
- Swimming: Since swimming is easy on the joints and works the whole body, it’s a great choice for pregnant women. Swimming also reduces the discomfort of added weight and helps moms stay cool, even while they work out.
- Walking: Gentle on the knees and ankles, walking is an excellent option. Be sure to get comfortable, supportive shoes and opt for level ground that’s free of roots, rocks, and other potential tripping hazards.
- Aerobics: Low-impact aerobic classes designed specifically for pregnant women are relatively common. Check with your gym or local community center to see if any free classes are available.
- Yoga: Maintain muscle tone and flexibility with yoga exercises. Although yoga has multiple health benefits, pregnant women will need to supplement yoga with cardiovascular exercise like swimming or walking.
Central Florida Regional Hospital offers a variety of exercise options through their H2U health and wellness program in addition to their prenatal education classes
Since pregnancy changes a woman’s balance, activities like bike riding, horseback riding, and others that require balance are not safe options. Meanwhile as pregnancy advances and joints loosen, it’s important to modify stretching to protect the joints and prevent injury. Talk to your doctor or a personal trainer about stretching safely in the last trimester of pregnancy.
If you have questions about having a healthy pregnancy, contact us at Central Florida Regional Hospital. In addition to our beautiful delivery suites, we offer a full complement of prenatal education classes. Visit us online or call Consult-a-Nurse® at 1-800-445-3392 for free health information and physician referrals.