During pregnancy, you are doing what seems almost unimaginable—you are growing another human being inside you. And, because of this herculean task, you may be tempted to spend most of your downtime relaxing on the couch. However, there are countless benefits for both mom and baby to maintain a fitness routine through pregnancy (once approved by your doctor).
Staying active can decrease many of the common aches and pains that come along with pregnancy. It may help you sleep better, increase your blood circulation (reducing swelling and the likelihood of varicose veins), and boost your energy levels as you are in a constant battle against pregnancy fatigue.
1. Stationary cycling
Cycling on a stationary bike, also called spinning, is safe for most women during pregnancy, including first-time exercisers.
Cycling helps raise the heart rate while minimizing stress on the joints and pelvis.
The bike helps support body weight.
As the bike is stationary, the risk of falling is low.
Later in pregnancy, a higher handlebar may be more comfortable.
2. Brisk walking
If pre pregnancy exercise levels were low, a quick stroll around the neighborhood is a good way to start.
This activity has several advantages:
It provides a cardiovascular workout with relatively little impact on the knees and ankles.
If women start from home, it is free.
It is possible to walk almost anywhere and at any time during pregnancy.
Friends and other family members can join the company.
Safety tip: Stay safe by choosing smooth surfaces, wearing supportive footwear to prevent falls, and avoiding potholes, rocks, and other obstacles.
3. Low impact aerobics
In low impact aerobic exercise, at least one foot stays on the ground at all times.
This type of exercise can:
Strengthen the heart and lungs
Help maintain muscle tone and balance
Limit stress on the joints
Some classes are designed especially for pregnant women. They can be a good way to meet other people and train with an instructor who is qualified to meet the specific needs of pregnant women.
Women who already attend a regular aerobics class should let the instructor know that they are pregnant. The instructor can then modify exercises where necessary and advise about suitable movements.
Prenatal yoga classes can help women keep their joints limber and maintain flexibility. Yoga may also help with pain and stress management, according to one study.
The benefits of yoga include:
Strengthening the muscles
Stimulating blood circulation
Helping maintain a healthy blood pressure
Teaching techniques to help women stay calm during labor and delivery
Safety tips: As pregnancy progresses, consider skipping poses that:
May lead to overbalancing
Involve lying on the abdomen
Involve spending time lying flat on the back
When lying flat on the back, the weight of the bump can put pressure on major veins and arteries and decrease blood flow to the heart. This reduced blood flow can lead to faintness.
Women should also take care to avoid overstretching, as this could lead to injury.
Swimming, walking in water, and aqua aerobics allow for motion without putting pressure on the joints. Buoyancy may offer some relief from the extra body weight as the pregnancy progresses.
It is important to choose a stroke that feels comfortable and does not strain or hurt the neck, shoulders, or back muscles. Breaststroke may be a good choice for this. Using a kickboard can help strengthen the leg and buttock muscles.
Use the railing for balance when entering the water to avoid slipping.
Refrain from diving or jumping, which could impact the abdomen.
Avoid warm pools, steam rooms, hot tubs, and saunas to minimize the risk of overheating.