Women’s Interests

Pregnancy and Exercise – What’s Safe and Unsafe?

You may not realize it, but the importance of exercise during pregnancy cannot be denied. Not only do pregnancy workouts help you stay fit, active, and healthy, but also they are great for the proper growth and development of the baby thriving in the womb.

However, not all exercises are safe to perform during pregnancy. According to experts, only light or moderate-intensity activities are allowed for pregnant women. If you’re endlessly searching online about exercises to do and avoid during pregnancy and only getting conflicting results, your search ends here.

The Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy

If you consider exercise merely a way to keep your body in top shape, you need to change your perspective. Regular exercise during pregnancy benefits you in many ways:

  • Helps with tiredness
  • Increases energy levels
  • Improves sleep and reduces insomnia
  • Improves both physical and mental well-being
  • Strengthens muscles and increases endurance
  • Lowers your back pain
  • Reduces the swelling of hands and feet
  • Helps your skin look better
  • Eases constipation
  • Protects your joints
  • Helps maintain blood pressure
  • Lightens your mood
  • Controls your weight during pregnancy
  • Reduce the risk of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and cesarean
  • Improves postpartum recovery
  • Strengthens and tones abdominal muscles
  • Improve your cardiovascular fitness
  • Strengthening your body and endurance
  • Helps prevent postpartum depression
  • Promotes weight loss after delivery
  • Prevents lower birth weight
  • Minimizes chances of premature birth

5 Best Exercises for a Pregnant Woman

Here are some safe to perform pregnancy exercises that increase the likelihood of a normal delivery:

#Breathing exercises

Breathing is vital when pregnant because it ensures a plentiful supply of oxygen for you and your baby. Here are a few breathing exercises that you should try during pregnancy:

  • Shallow breathing
  • Stomach breathing
  • Chest breathing
  • Alternative deep breathing
  • Ujjayi breathing

An added advantage of these breathing exercises is that they remove waste products from your body efficiently.

#Kegel exercises

Kegel Exercises are highly recommended for pregnant women because they strengthen pelvic floor muscles that bear the weight of a growing baby, combat the pain during childbirth, and stop the flow of urine throughout pregnancy. One of the best things about Kegels is that you can do them anywhere, anytime, without any equipment. The benefits of kegel exercises for pregnant women include:

  • Easy labor and childbirth
  • Healing your pelvic floor muscles
  • Helps control bladder
  • Prevents those little leaks
  • Helps you get back in shape post-pregnancy

#Pilates

Like stretching and prenatal yoga, Pilates workouts also strengthen your weakened pelvic floor and abdominal muscles during pregnancy. Pregnant women usually perform Pilates during their second trimester on a mat or another carpeted surface. This helps them stay strong and limber for their motherhood journey.

#Bodyweight and toning moves

If you’re looking for exercises to strengthen and tone your muscles during pregnancy, try at-home workouts such as leg lifts, lunges, squats, arm lifts, wall push-ups with or without low-weight dumbbells. Start with five minutes and gradually go up to at least half an hour a day.

#Side-lying leg lifts

If you often experience back pain or hip pain, side-lying leg lifts can be an ideal exercise for you. They strengthen your back and abdominal muscles, and you can do them throughout your pregnancy. Do two sets of 8-15 repetitions on each side.

5 Exercises to Avoid During Pregnancy

These are exercises you should steer clear of during pregnancy to eliminate the risk of injury or sudden miscarriage:

#Contact sports

Contact sports, like volleyball, soccer, horse riding, basketball, and football, significantly increase the risk of injury during pregnancy. You should stop indulging in them after the first trimester of pregnancy because, at this time, your uterus begins to rise above the pelvic bones, and the risk of your bump being hit is higher.

#Hot yoga

Doing prenatal yoga while wearing stretchable pregnancy yoga wear is highly recommended for pregnant women, but any yoga at room temperature 100 degrees or higher should be avoided. While pregnant, you should avoid such hot conditions because your baby’s exposure to high temperatures may lead to hyperthermia which can cause premature labor and other congenital disabilities in the child.

#Stair climbing

Stair climbing has emerged as a popular exercise trend in recent years. This practice is quite prevalent in rural areas. However, there is a risk of tripping, falling, and over-exerting yourself while you’re climbing stairs. Also, it can overload your leg muscles and increase your heart rate. So better to avoid it!

#Running and jogging

Even if you’re a running pro, jogging and running are not recommended when you’re pregnant. There is a high risk of losing balance, falling, and getting injured. Instead, you can take a long brisk walk for at least half an hour daily. This is a much better alternative to stay fit and active while pregnant.

#High-impact aerobics

High-impact aerobic exercises, such as hopping, bouncing, and jumping, are not safe for pregnant women due to the risk of slipping and injury. However, you’re allowed to do low-impact aerobics, such as indoor cycling, swimming, and aqua aerobics. If you have experienced miscarriage or uterine complications in the past, consult with your health care provider before you try low-impact aerobics.

Rules for Exercising During Pregnancy

Make sure you take the following precautions before you engage in any physical activity during pregnancy:

  • Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
  • Avoid exercising flat on your back in the last two trimesters.
  • Always warm up slowly and cool down gradually.
  • Avoid exercises that pose the risk of falling.
  • Do not use a steam room, sauna, or jacuzzi.
  • Always wear loose, comfortable clothes designed for pregnant women to exercise comfortably.
  • Don’t overheat or overexert yourself. Listen to your body.
  • Avoid aerobic exercises if you have chronic diseases.
  • Wear a well-fitted, supportive maternity bra to hold your tender breasts.
  • Slow down or quit if you feel uncomfortable or have muscular pain.
  • Skip exercises that require standing too long or lying flat on your back.
  • Skip high-impact exercises that involve jumping.
  • Perform stretching only to maintain flexibility instead of getting into developmental stretches.
  • Consult your doctor before you perform any exercise.

In short, perform every exercise with caution!

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