Medical Care ,  Health & Wellness ,  Women’s Wellness ,  Pregnancy ,  Sports and Fitness

You Should Exercise Even When You’re Pregnant

June 21, 2023

See a doctor to discuss how to reap the benefits of exercise

You Should Exercise Even When You’re Pregnant

Exercise on a regular basis is a powerful contributor to human health and can be done safely even during pregnancy, thus getting your body fit for giving birth and making it easier to cope with or prevent weight gain, unless you are experiencing complications.

Women should aim for about 150 minutes of workout per week, the UK National Health System (NHS) recommends. Even brief 10-minute sessions are beneficial, especially because women don’t need to push too hard as exercise doesn’t need to be strenuous to be helpful.

For those who don’t work out regularly, a good starting point is brisk walking. The advice is to engage in it for about 10 minutes every day and slowly reach 150 minutes weekly. Walking is also convenient as it can be done anywhere and fit into one’s daily schedule.

When it comes to intensity, a good way to make sure you’re not overdoing it is to be able to hold a conversation while exercising: those who can’t do it should probably reduce the intensity of their workout.

“Much of what a pregnant person can and should do to stay healthy during their pregnancy will vary from person to person, but the most important thing to remember is to listen to your body’s cues and not push yourself too hard,” Dr Salena Zanotti, an obstetrician and gynaecologist at the Cleveland Clinic, said on its website, adding that how hard people should work out depends on their physical ability, but they should never “go full-force.”

“During your pregnancy, your center of balance changes, particularly as your belly expands in the later months.”

Other workouts suitable for pregnant women include low impact aerobics like swimming and elliptical training. Pelvic floor exercises are also beneficial because they help strengthen muscles that come under strain during pregnancy and labour, while prenatal yoga can make women more relaxed with stretching and breathing techniques (hot yoga isn’t recommended though).

Women who normally run, jog, or play racquet sports can usually continue doing so in pregnancy, but it’s better to ask an ob-gyn if those activities are safe as that may change from person to person.

The benefits of regular exercise during pregnancy include reduced back pain and constipation as well as decreased risk for gestational diabetes, preeclampsia (high blood pressure), and cesarean birth, according to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The practice also strengthens both the heart and the blood vessels while helping women to lose weight after giving birth.

Women should also drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise and avoid working out when it’s too hot or humid.

However, some exercise types are dangerous during pregnancy and should be avoided. These include those that put women at risk of injury, like contact sports (soccer, basketball, ice hockey) snow/water skiing, surfing, and horseback riding.

“During your pregnancy, your center of balance changes, particularly as your belly expands in the later months,” explained Dr Zanotti. “That can put you at a greater risk for falls, so you’ll want to stay away from exercises that require balance.”

As is often the case, though, pregnant women should consult an ob-gyn to figure out the safest workout regime for their specific needs.

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