Exercising during pregnancy lifts your spirits and prepares you for labor and childbirth. It can add to healthy and safe pregnancy and provide many benefits that make your pregnancy more enjoyable.
Some of the benefits of exercising during pregnancy are:
- Fewer problems experienced during childbirth
- Enhanced post natal recovery
- Help strengthen your upper and lower body to deal with extra weight gained during pregnancy
- Enhanced body image
- Feelings of wellbeing and happiness, and a positive self image
- Increased energy level
- Better circulation of blood to the extremities
- Greater muscle strength and coordination, which helps with adjusting to increased bodyweight and changes in balance.
Pre natal exercise should be directed toward muscle strengthening to minimize the risk of joint and ligament injuries. This is not time for achieving new PB’s or trying to build muscle mass. The aim is to maintain strength and cardiovascular fitness to be able to handle changes your body is about to undertake.
Some of the exercises suitable during pregnancy are:
- Incline dumbbell bench press – after first trimester is not recommended for women to perform exercises lying flat on the back. The extra weight of the abdomen can cause pressure on one of main veins of the body – vena cava and cause insufficient blood flow to heart, brain and/or the baby.
- Seated cable row
- Rear delt fly
- Dumbell shoulder press
- Lat pulldown – strengthening upper and lower back as well as shoulders and posterior deltoids will help with dealing with extra weight of growing baby and can help to prevent back pains and headaches which are so common during pregnancy.
- Exercise ball crunches – as baby grows abdominal muscles are stretched and weakened, that’s why is important to keep them as strong as possible to provide enough support for whole upper body.
- Hip abductor/adductor – these exercises can assist with stabilising hips and pelvic region.
During pregnancy woman’s body release a hormone called relaxin that softens the connective tissue of the body and prepare it for the labour. Women should therefore avoid all the activities that can promote loss of balance and falling as that could cause joints or ligaments injuries. All the exercise needs to be done in safe manner and moderate intensity.
Cardiovascular exercise such as walking on flat or incline surface, light jogging, biking is also very beneficial but should be done in moderate intensities to avoid fatigue, exhaustion or overheating, which increases core temperature and can be dangerous for the baby.
If you didn’t regularly weight train before becoming pregnant, taking up gym after you’ve conceived may not be a great idea, but keeping active by doing light cardiovascular exercises or trying yoga or pilates classes for beginners could be a great option as they’re mostly bodyweight programs and focus on flexibility, core strength and proper breathing.
It is very important, though, to consult your doctor before doing any exercise, whether you’re an experience gym goer or just a newbie, to ensure you’re not putting yours or your baby’s health at risk.