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Exercise During Pregnancy: Five Types of Exercise That Are Safe and Beneficial

Updated on July 30, 2013
How much exercise can you do during pregnancy?
How much exercise can you do during pregnancy? | Source

Should you exercise during pregnancy? Too many women believe that exercising while they’re pregnant is a no-no. The truth is that it’s actually good for you and the baby. There will be a few things that you can’t do but, as long as you follow a few basic rules, you will gain a lot of benefit. Here are five exercises that I did during pregnancy that are great throughout the nine months.

Please note that this is just informational. There are some women who can’t exercise during pregnancy. Consult your doctor or midwife if you are worried and to make sure you exercise safely. Also, this isn’t to lose weight! The exercises are to help build muscle and get your body as fit as possible for labour.

Exercise During Pregnancy: The Health Benefits

It’s really important to look into the health benefits of exercising while pregnant. Remember that you’re not trying to lose weight (you shouldn’t try to lose weight while pregnant). Exercising is about improving your endurance and strengthening your body. It will also help to avoid too much weight gain during pregnancy, which is just as dangerous as losing weight!

Building your endurance is essential. Labour can be long and difficult. If you need to have a c-section, you will find that exercise also helps speed up your recovery time because your body is at its healthiest possible. You’ll also find the later stages of pregnancy much easier to deal with. Your back will be more supported to handle the weight of your growing baby.

Having a friend to job with you while pregnant is a good idea
Having a friend to job with you while pregnant is a good idea | Source

Try Walking/Jogging While Pregnant

If you’re an avid runner, you may think that you have to slow down now that you’re pregnant. That isn’t necessarily the case. While you will find running harder as you get to the later stages of your pregnant, this type of exercise during pregnancy is extremely beneficial. As you finding running harder, you can always drop the speed to jogging or walking.

This type of exercise is aerobic and gets your blood pumping around your system. Your baby will benefit from this since it means more oxygen around the system. You will also find that swelling and aches are less likely. The brain releases a series of chemicals during aerobic activity, including serotonin, which is the body’s natural painkiller.

However, you will have to be careful. It is important to make sure you take in enough calories to support your body and drink plenty of water. You will also need to avoid over-exerting yourself. Trying to push yourself too hard, because you’re used to a certain pace, is dangerous for the baby. It can put excess stress on your little one and cause complications. If you are worried, consult your midwife or doctor to find out the best pace.

It’s also worth having someone there with you. Your centre of gravity switches as your bump gets larger. You’ll stop being able to see your feet and it can make you seem clumsy. Having a friend there will help to keep you on your feet or avoid any accidents.

Swimming Is the Best Exercise

Swimming is one of the best exercises that you could do while pregnant. The weight of the water supports your body and will ease the aches and pains that you feel. Your bump won’t feel as heavy and you’ll be able to do much more. You’ll also work all the muscles in your body, including your arms, legs and back to improve your strength.

If you have problems with your hips during pregnancy, it may be worth avoiding breast stroke. This stroke makes you kick your legs out and can cause further problems. Try front and backstroke to make it easier or use a float and just kick with your legs. Avoid too much on your back, as the weight of the baby can block an artery!

Many leisure centres offer aquanatal classes. These are like aqua-aerobic classes but specifically designed for pregnant women. It’s a great way to meet others and make sure you’re doing everything safely. The people taking the classes have been specially trained to make sure you remain safe.

You can still do aerobic exercise during pregnancy
You can still do aerobic exercise during pregnancy | Source

Aerobic and Dance Classes While Pregnant

Yes, you can still take part in some dance and aerobic classes, especially during the first two trimesters. The problem is you may not feel like you have the energy during the first trimester! You should let the instructor know that you’re pregnant to make sure all the exercises will be safe for you and to show you alternatives to keep your baby healthy.

Like running/walking, make sure you take it easy. This is great for raising the heart rate and getting the blood pumping but your body still needs refueling! You will also need to think about the shift in your centre of gravity and any clumsiness that you feel as your bump gets bigger.

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Cycling Outside and In the Gym

If you love cycling, this is one good exercise during pregnancy. To start with, you can cycle outside but as your bump gets bigger it is worth switching to the static bikes. There is more risk of falling off your bike as your centre of gravity changes and you risk hurting your baby. The static bikes in the gym make it less likely that you’ll fall.

Avoid mountain biking and other similar extreme sports though! This is not the time to try any new hills or daring moves. Focus on being healthy. Choose paths that are easier to navigate around with gradual up and down hills.

Buy a DVD to Help with Prenatal Yoga

Pregnancy Yoga for Flexibility

Finally, you need to improve on your flexibility and pregnancy yoga is perfect for that. Wait, pregnancy yoga? Yes! This is different to normal yoga and is designed to keep your baby healthy. I bought a pregnancy yoga DVD and found it really helpful to be able to do it in the comfort of my own home but know that I was doing the best for my unborn child.

Yoga is great but it involves a lot of lying on your back and trying to balance on one leg. Remember your balance will be compromised with the bump and you shouldn’t lie on your back! The baby affects an artery, which can lead to your blood pressure dropping and puts your baby in distress. It’s just not worth it for the sake of an exercise! Pregnancy yoga has taken all those exercises and made their suitable for all stages of pregnancy.

You will find that many do the exercises on the side or with a stability ball (which is great for labour by the way!). They also encourage you to use stools and support through the exercises to keep yourself and your baby safe. If you do decide to go to a yoga class, inform your instructor to make sure you remain safe with the exercise during pregnancy.

What Exercises Are Safe During Pregnancy?

Getting Started with Exercise During Pregnancy

If you’ve never really been a fan of exercise, during pregnancy is not the best time to start trying out new and adventurous things. It’s important to talk to your doctor or midwife to make sure there will be no complications or problems from the exercises and to suggest types of exercises that you might do. I’d recommend starting with swimming as it’s beneficial for all, unless your doctor has told you otherwise!

This isn’t the time to start training for a marathon. Stick with light exercises to keep your baby safe. Consider doing around three days a week of exercise during pregnancy. While you want the benefits, you always want to keep your baby safe from harm.

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