Fitness and Pregnancy:
Things You Need To Know
For most women, pregnancy seems like the perfect time to relax. The constant fatigue, swollen ankles, and back aches can make exercise the last thing on one’s mind.
However, fitness and pregnancy go hand in hand as staying fit while pregnant does more harm than good. In order to stay healthy and feel good during your pregnancy, it is important to maintain a regular fitness regime.
Regular exercise can help improve your posture and diminish common discomforts experienced during pregnancy like fatigue and backaches. Studies have also shown that exercise may prevent a form of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy known as gestational diabetes.
Moderate exercise during pregnancy is recommended as long as the pregnancy is progressing well. It is advisable to perform physical activities you are comfortable with and not try to work out at your former level.
Your fitness regime should be simple and easy-going. If you are a competitive athlete and would like to compete while pregnant, it is important to seek your doctor’s advice. For those who have never exercised, it is advisable to begin with a moderate physical activity like walking which is considered safe for pregnant women.
Medical practitioners recommend half an hour of moderate exercise each day of the week or on most days.
Why You Should Exercise During Pregnancy
Physical activity during pregnancy benefits both you and the baby you are carrying. Some top reasons why you should stay fit during pregnancy include:
It boosts your energy.
Regular physical activity helps you to cope with a hectic schedule and get though your day-to-day tasks. Exercise strengthens the cardiovascular system and ensures you don’t tire easily. It also gives you strong and toned muscles that help you to engage in any activity without a lot of effort.
You get better sleep.
Many pregnant women have trouble finding a comfortable sleeping position. Exercise works off any extra energy and makes you tired which enables you to enjoy more restful sleep.
It prepares you for labor and delivery.
The more physically fit you are, the stronger you will be during childbirth. Giving birth requires stamina, focus, and determination and staying fit can help ease labor and make the process a shorter one. While exercise is not a guarantee that you’ll sail through childbirth, a high percentage of pregnant women who exercise during pregnancy don’t usually require medical interventions like C-sections, forceps deliveries, or episiotomies.
It helps prevent gestational diabetes.
Many women are at a high risk for developing gestational diabetes during pregnancy. High blood sugar during pregnancy also raises the odds of having an overweight baby, preterm delivery, and for contracting Type II diabetes after delivery. The American Diabetes Association advises women who are at risk of developing gestational diabetes to exercise as it helps to lower the risk.
It speeds up postpartum recovery.
The more physically fit you are during pregnancy, the faster you’ll recover after childbirth. Exercise also helps you to get back to your normal body faster after childbirth. When you maintain your strength and muscle tone during your pregnancy, your body has an easier time getting back to normal after childbirth. Staying fit during pregnancy also helps you to avoid gaining excess weight.
Which Exercises Are Safe For Pregnant Women?
Most exercises can be performed during pregnancy as long as they are not overdone. The most productive and safe exercises include swimming, low-impact aerobics, indoor stationary cycling, brisk walking, and step or elliptical machines. These exercises have low chances of injury, benefit the entire body, and can be carried out until birth.
Racquetball and tennis are safe activities but the rapid movements may be affected by changes in balance during pregnancy. Jogging is also good when done in moderation and is recommended for those who were jogging before getting pregnant. Exercises that do not require a lot of balance or coordination are good for those in their later stages of pregnancy.
It is advisable to check with your doctor when you are unsure whether a specific exercise is safe during pregnancy. Generally discouraged activities include hiking or scuba diving at high altitudes, contact sports, and exercises with a high risk of falling like in-line skating, downhill skiing, and water skiing.
When choosing a fitness regime, always check with your doctor first!
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