Prenatal Exercise and Your Mental Health

Prenatal Exercise and Your Mental Health

Can exercising when pregnant improve your mental health? Yes, absolutely! I loved working out when I was pregnant and what I did throughout my pregnancy has definitely helped me to enjoy a speedier postpartum recovery.

There are many ways exercise can positively impact on your physical and mental wellbeing. For starters; exercise can help boost your mood, calm you down, and potentially even prevent depression.

How Does Exercise Boost Your Mood?

There have been countless research studies that have shown exercise is beneficial for your mental health.

The Positive Link Between Exercise and Mood

  1. Exercise increases your level of endorphins, which are natural mood lifters.
  2. Exercise helps chronic depression by increasing serotonin.
  3. Exercise reduces immune system chemicals that can make depression worse.
  4. Exercise helps by getting your sleep patterns back to normal.
  5. Exercise limits the effect of stress on your brain.

Appropriate Prenatal Exercise is the Goal

The exercise you do should not be high-intensity, high impact, exhausting exercise. Because when pregnant, this is the last type of exercise you want to include in your weekly workouts.

Instead, your workouts should avoid high-intensity movements, high impact exercises and any moves that require significant balance. This is why you won't find any of these exercises in my workouts.

Related: 15 Exercises to Avoid when Pregnant

Light to Moderate Exercise during Pregnancy

A qualified and experienced prenatal exercise instructor understands that there are many benefits to participating in moderate intensity workouts.

Those instructors who push their pregnant clients to exhaustion for extended periods of time, raising body temperature are putting their clients at risk. So please do your due diligence when choosing your instructor or joining an exercise class.

When it comes to exercise duration, even short bouts of just 10 minutes at a time may be effective for improving mood. So, if you are struggling with the physical changes you are experiencing, even getting a 10 minute workout can provide you with some positive benefits.

Enjoy the Social Connection

What's even better is exercising in groups because you experience a social connection and a sense of community. I have seen this first hand from women participating in my prenatal classes and then socializing afterwards.

If you can't get to a group class, then try walking with a friend a few times each week.

What Types of Exercise?

You need to find a mode of exercise you enjoy so that you continue to do it throughout your pregnancy and also after childbirth.

During pregnancy, there are many exercises that you must avoid. Also, some of the sports you may have once played will now become potential hazardous to both you and baby.

In other words, your priorities have changed and so must the way you exercise. You must make modifications to your workouts to ensure they are safe for both you and baby.

Activities such as road cycling, horse riding, or one of many contact sports must now be avoided.

How Much Should You Exercise?

Ideally, you should aim to workout 3-5 times each week. Completing a 20 minute workout is sufficient. The key is to select a workout that is recommended for pregnancy and that is also appropriate for your current fitness level.

This is why prenatal yoga and Pilates workouts are recommended. Both provide a positive impact on your mental health due to the relaxation components.

Takeaway

There are numerous reasons why you should exercise when pregnant. Besides the physical benefits, exercise can improve your mental health.

Your prenatal workouts must take into account your body changes each trimester and as a result, you must modify your workouts as you progress deep into your third trimester.

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