The Benefits of Exercise during Pregnancy

There are so many benefits of exercise during pregnancy, yet still many questions arise when trying to stay physically active during pregnancy. So lets talk about the benefits of exercise and lay down some guidelines to help you stay safe! Before starting a workout regimen, you need to change your mindset about what your goals are. It’s no longer about losing weight or gaining muscle, but about maintaining strength and endurance. This will help you gain an appropriate amount of weight during pregnancy, and make you physically ready for your delivery.

In general, exercising during pregnancy is safe and recommended. If you were active before your pregnancy, you will still be able to do a lot of things you were doing before. The key is to slow your self down. Monitoring your heart rate and utilizing the talk test are great ways to prevent overexertion. If you weren’t active before pregnancy, you can still start an exercise routine. First, you will need to consult with your physician to make sure you and your future baby are healthy enough. Start with slow, low intensity exercises. Safety is the major theme of exercising while pregnant, as your body is going to be continually changing and your sense of balance and position will not be the same as it always has been. Joints are more flexible from the hormones raging inside you, and your muscles tend to be more relaxed. Most importantly, your center of gravity and equilibrium will be different, making it easier for you to lose your balance and injure yourself. The extra weight you will be carrying will make routine tasks more difficult. These are things you must be aware of when considering exercising during pregnancy.

  • Stay well hydrated
  • Keep yourself properly fueled throughout the day, as well as before and after physical activity
  • Avoid hot and humid days
  • Reduce your risk of falling: Stay away from activities with contact, jumping, or explosive movements
  • Avoid supine (lying flat on back) or prone (lying flat on stomach) positions. These positions place added stress on the baby and reduce blood flow
  • Most importantly, be safe and listen to your body!

Regular prenatal exercise has been shown to improve your mood, stress levels, and increase energy levels that can give you a boost during pregnancy. Fitness routines should be of moderate intensity with more repetitions and lower weights. Make it a priority to exercise for about 30 minutes 5-7 times per week. As your baby grows, it is common for many women to develop hip and back pain. Your body is preparing for labor, and is restructuring itself to help with that process. Exercise can help relieve some of these discomforts. Workouts should be focused on getting your blood pumping, utilizing exercises that help to strengthen and stabilize your core, hips, and glutes in order to help you maintain good balance. Don’t forget good stretching to counterbalance your strength training with flexibility and mobility exercises. Some additional benefits to regular activity during pregnancy are:

  • Help you gain an appropriate amount of weight (see chart below), so you don’t have to lose a ton of weight when you’re done
  • Sleep better
  • Help you get back to your regular weight post pregnancy
  • Reduce post-partum depression
  • Prevent gestational diabetes
  • Bigger placenta (more nutrients for you baby)
Healthy weight gain during pregnancy chart

National Institutes of Health’s chart on healthy weight gain during pregnancy

Pregnancy is an amazing phenomenon, but can be full of stress and worry. Safe, regular exercise can help make it a more enjoyable experience. Start now by making a healthy lifestyle a priority for your child. If you have more questions on how to be physically active, or nutrition questions while being pregnant call us (803-200-2506) today and set up a FREE no obligation consultation at Elite Nutrition and Performance.

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