15 Benefits of Exercise during Pregnancy

prenatal exercise Sep 03, 2020

Benefits of Exercise during Pregnancy

So what are the benefits of exercise during pregnancy? Do you know that exercising during your pregnancy will not only benefit you, but also your baby?

Once you know just how important working out when pregnant is, you will have that added motivation to keep you going throughout each trimester.

I continually advocate that every woman is different in what we experience when pregnant. So, I want you to participate in an approved prenatal fitness training program that suits your needs and requirements. If you are pregnant without complications, you should be encouraged to participate in appropriate exercises.

But what are considered appropriate exercises?

This is the tough part for most women. Most women who come to my prenatal classes are unaware of which exercises can be potentially dangerous when pregnant.

Even those who very fit and exercised regularly before pregnancy, acknowledge that working out when pregnant requires a modified program to ensure the safety of both themselves and their baby.

So what can you do?

Join a qualified and experienced prenatal exercise instructor who delivers classes that are specifically catered to pregnant women.

If you want to workout at home, then my pregnancy workouts have been specifically designed for each week of pregnancy. They only include safe and effective exercises.

Whether you are in your first trimester, or third trimester, you will know you are getting the right exercises.

What you did before may now be dangerous.

Prenatal yoga is highly recommended. But did you know that certain poses must be avoided now you're pregnant? What about heart rate during pregnancy? Intensity of training? And many more variables associated with exercise.

You should not try to set personal bests.

To take on a new intensive physical challenge. Or to push yourself to exhaustion. All can be dangerous to both you and baby. Your goal should be to maintain a good fitness level throughout pregnancy without trying to reach peak fitness.

Benefits of Exercise during Pregnancy

There are numerous documented potential health benefits for women who exercise during pregnancy. These include improved mood, improved sleep and better weight control, to name a few.

There are also some direct benefits of regular exercise during pregnancy when it comes to decreasing the risk of pregnancy-related complications such as pregnancy-induced hypertension and pre-eclampsia.

Body Changes when Pregnant

Your body will experience more body changes when pregnant than at any other time. This doesn't mean you don't want to look and feel good. Exercise has numerous benefits in maintaining a healthy pregnancy weight. Staying active helps you feel better about yourself. It gives you the body confidence to carry your baby.

Exercise is not for everyone!

Please do not start a pregnancy exercise program until your doctor has cleared you to do so. I constantly repeat this throughout my posts as it is so important.

You may need to modify your existing exercise program. Or choose a suitable new one if you were exercising very little before getting pregnant. And if you are like some women who have complications, exercise may be something you have to avoid. This is rare, but can occur.

Your Prenatal Workout Must be Modified.

You will likely have questions to what exercises are best when pregnant and which ones you must avoid.

Whether you are participating in yoga, Pilates or in your own workouts, there are certain exercises that are no longer safe when pregnant. You must be prepared to modify some exercises, movements or postures.

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Which Exercises During Pregnancy are Beneficial?

There are a number of recommended exercises for pregnant woman.

But here are the top six:

1. Swimming

2. Walking

3. Prenatal Yoga

4. Prenatal Pilates

5. PregActive workouts

6. Pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegel exercises.

Benefits of Pelvic Floor Exercises during Pregnancy

Your pelvic floor muscles are weakened during pregnancy and during birth. As a result, you will experience various body changes and unwanted symptoms such as leakage.

It is for this reason, to begin conditioning the pelvic floor muscles from the start of your pregnancy. Every week, you get a new exercise plan when you join my online program. And each week, I want you to join in one of my pelvic floor strengthening videos.

Appropriate Kegel exercises can be prescribed by a physiotherapist.

It is important to continue with these pelvic floor exercises throughout your pregnancy. And it's just as important to resume as soon as is comfortable after the birth.

If you require additional help, then I recommend you see a women's health physiotherapist who can guide you on all areas of pelvic floor exercises.

Here are 15 Benefits of Exercising during Pregnancy

1. Maintain a healthy pregnancy weight

Weight gain during pregnancy will vary for each person. However, research has shown that you will put on less 'unwanted' weight if you exercise compared to if you were sedentary.

2. Prepare you for post pregnancy

If you try to start exercising during post-pregnancy after having a long term break you will find it more difficult. Maintaining a regular prenatal workout program during pregnancy will be of great benefit to achieving your fitness goals post-pregnancy.

3. Assist you during labor

Just talking to your friends you will quickly find out that labor varies in many ways from person to person. What we do know is that if you are fitter you will be better prepared for the physical requirements of going through labor.

If you have strengthened your body throughout pregnancy, you will be better prepared for labour and delivery. Giving birth requires strength, stamina, determination, and focus. Exercise, in particular prenatal yoga, can be very beneficial when pregnant.

4. Help improve your mood

Whether you are pregnant or not, we all know that exercising improves our mood. Exercising increases the release of feel-good brain chemicals called endorphins as well as calming chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin.

This helps your body cope better with the aches and pains of pregnancy. When you physically feel better, you also mentally feel better.

5. Reduce injury

One of the most common complaints from women with a new baby is developing injuries to the back and shoulders.

While your little baby may only weight a few kilograms, using the incorrect technique when lifting in and out of the cot can cause back problems. Exercising and strengthening your back can help to reduce injury.

6. Speedier postpartum recovery

If you remain inactive during pregnancy, you will find it more difficult to start a regular exercise program once your little baby has arrived. Staying fit and active during your pregnancy will help you get going post pregnancy.

7. Pregnancy workouts will help boost energy levels.

Exercising is a great way to boost your energy and stamina levels. Pregnancy can make you tired. Exhausted, Anxious. But participating in a regular exercise program can give you the energy boost you need.

This extra energy will help you get through your daily tasks and chores.

The way it works in that immediately after exercise, you will feel tired. But in the long run, exercise strengthens your cardiovascular system.

The benefit of this is that you won't tire as easily and you will have the energy to get you through stressful times.

When you are stronger you don't need to put in as much effort to engage in any activity. Overall, you will feel stronger, have more energy and will be prepared physically to carry a baby and for childbirth.

8. Lower your gestational diabetes risk.

Research has shown that women who have high blood sugar levels during pregnancy will have a higher chance of developing type II diabetes.

There are other contributing factors to developing diabetes (age, hormonal changes, genetics) so there are these additional factors out of your control.

One study found that when women who had gestational diabetes exercised moderately three times a week, their risk of having a macrosomic newborn was reduced by 58 percent.

This led to a 34 percent lower risk of a c-section. Exercise may help reduce the risk of developing diabetes.

9. Boost your immune system

Participating in regular exercise helps to boost your immune system and reduce the risk of illness.

10. Reduce swelling

Exercising can reduce leg swelling. During pregnancy you will likely experience greater swelling as your body retains more fluid. Exercise can reduce swelling by improving blood flow.

11. Less prone to morning sickness

Morning sickness will impact women in different ways. You may experience severe bouts of nausea or you may be fortunate enough to experience little. Pregnant women have often reported that exercise can help reduce nausea.

12. May assist your sleep

There is no question you will be up every few hours feeding or looking after your baby.

Women who exercise have reported that they can fall asleep faster and enjoy a higher quality of sleep when they do get to put their head down on the pillow. Exercise also helps you sleep by relieving stress and anxiety that could otherwise keep you awake.

13. Exercising can become a social gathering

Participating in an exercise program, whether at home or outside, you can meet and discuss your training with other expectant moms.

14. May assist with depression

Exercise can help boost energy, improve sleep, get some sunlight if exercising outside and improve your mood. Exercising during pregnancy may lower the risk of depression and anxiety.

15. Healthier Mother - Healthier Baby!

Research shows that when you exercise during pregnancy you may be helping your baby have a much lower heart rate.

Here's What Research Says About the Benefits of Exercise during Pregnancy

Research 1.

On average when pregnant, most women will gain between 10-15kg anteriorly and central which can cause a change in center of gravity. As a result, that can have an effect on coordination, balance and posture.

The parallel increase in weight gain and ligament laxity contributes to 50% of women suffering from lower back pain during pregnancy. (Olson and Blackwell, 2011)

Research 2.

Research indicates that women who exercise in pregnancy experience less pelvic, shoulder and lower back pain. The increased fitness, pelvic floor and abdominal strength associated with an appropriate exercise program assists women through with delivery and post birth recovery. (Artal and O'Toole, 2003)

Research 3.

In addition to postural changes, vascular changes cause an increase in resting heart rate, maximal heart rate and a blood pressure decrease. Monitoring hydration, heat status, rest periods and changes in position is an essential component of exercise therapy. (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 2002)

Research 4.

Up to 50% of pregnancies exceed the recommended healthy weight gain leading to high-risk pregnancies, preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. (Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, 2003)

Research 5.

Additional weight gain during pregnancy also acts as a pre-curser to postpartum weight retention and an increased risk of obesity for the child in adulthood. (Olson and Blackwell, 2011)

Research 6.

Women who return to exercise within 6 months of giving birth are more likely to return to a healthy weight range. (Siega-Riz, Viswanathan and Moos, 2003)

Research 7.

Postpartum depression remains one of the leading complications during the prenatal and postpartum period. (Gaynes et al., 2005)

Research 8.

Exercise increases the release of endorphins, provides a sense of mastery, increases self-esteem, improves body image perception, provides a sense of achievement, as well as acting as a distraction from stressful stimuli (Daley and Macarthur, 2007).

Research 9.

Habits that are adopted during pregnancy play a major role in shaping Women's health for the rest of their life. (Sports Medicine Australia, 2013)

Takeaway

There are many benefits to working our and exercising when pregnant. Not only for you, but also your growing baby!

Learn More About My Online Programs

From my planning for pregnancy plan, pregnancy workouts, Core Rehab for Mamas program to my Stronger Mama Challenge; I have a program to help you be a healthy, fit and strong mama for life!

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