Can I exercise during pregnancy?
Exercise has become a vital part of many women's lives. However, theoretic concerns have been raised about the safety of some forms of exercise during pregnancy.
To begin with, you should consult your doctor before starting any physical activity.
Then, you should take into consideration whether you were already active before getting pregnant.
- In case you were following a regular exercise programme prior to your pregnancy, you should be able to maintain that programme to some degree throughout your pregnancy. Sometimes, it's better to gradually decrease the intensity from vigorous to moderate to light. Just listen to your body since it will give you signals if it's time to reduce the level of exercise you perform.
- In case you are just starting an exercise programme as a way of improving your health during your pregnancy, you should start very slowly and be careful not to over-exert yourself. In fact, moderate physical activity is considered to be beneficial for most pregnant women and their babies.
What are the benefits of Exercise during Pregnancy?
In general, exercise helps you feel better physically and emotionally. For pregnant women in particular, regular, moderate exercise can help:
Prevent varicose veins
Prevent and control gestational diabetes
Prepare your body for childbirth (build the stamina needed for labour and delivery)
Maintain your overall physical fitness and prevents excessive weight gain
What is a moderate exercise program?
Pregnant women should be able to maintain their breathing well and carry on a normal conversation during physical activities. Examples of moderate and acceptable activities during pregnancy: Walking, Swimming, Light Dance, Exercise classes for pregnant women and Relaxation/stretching.
Good to Remember:
Yoga during pregnancy can help you learn to breathe deeply and relax, which will come in handy as you face the physical demands of labour, birth, and motherhood. It is good to know that there are specific yoga classes for pregnant women.
- Never exercise to the point of exhaustion or breathlessness. This is a sign that your baby and your body cannot get the oxygen supply it needs.
- Overheating should be avoided since elevated core body temperatures can harm the developing fetus.
- Pregnant women should refrain from exercise that involves the risk of abdominal trauma, falls or excessive joint stress, as in skiing, horseback riding and contact sports (such as football).
- Pregnant women are more prone to injury of the ligaments. Jumping or bouncing types of exercise should not be performed.
- After 20 weeks, pregnant women should avoid exercise while lying flat on the back. This can restrict blood flow to the fetus.
Example of a weekly exercise programme:
- Sunday: Walking for 30 minutes
- Monday: Swimming
- Tuesday: Yoga or special classes for pregnant women
- Wednesday: Walking for 30 minutes
- Thursday: Swimming
- Friday: Walking for 30 minutes
- Saturday: Keep up a healthy active lifestyle through normal daily activities like shopping, walking in the park with your family, etc.
Pay attention to your body and how you feel. Don’t overdo it -- try to build up your level of fitness gradually. Despite the benefits of physical activity, it's important to check with your healthcare provider before you begin or proceed with your exercise programme.
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