Growing a baby is exhausting and pregnancy exercise might be the last thing on your mind when you’re expecting.
But whether you’re known for getting up at the butt crack of dawn for a run, or you’re a renowned couch potato, one thing is certain. A good level of exercise is super beneficial in pregnancy.
Everyone on the planet can benefit from a basic level of fitness. But pregnant women in particular have a lot to gain from working up a (slight) sweat.
Some of the many benefits of pregnancy exercise include:
Keeping the weight gain under control
While you shouldn’t use exercise to try and lose weight when pregnant, it’s a great tool for keeping the gain in check. It’s normal to gain weight in pregnancy – expected, even. But completely blowing out is not advised, and some pregnancy exercise can help prevent that.
Easing aches and pains
Pregnancy can be uncomfortable. Ligaments are stretching, joints are loosening, and as your bump grows, so does the strain on your back. Exercise keeps your muscles moving and your blood pumping and can significantly reduce those aches and pains. It may even help with your nausea and constipation!
Cheering you up
If you’re feeling the full force of your emotions thanks to those pesky preggo hormones, a bit of exercise could recalibrate you and cheer you up. Exercise has long been considered a mood booster due to the endorphins you release when you work up a sweat. It may be the last thing you feel like doing when you’re in a funk, but you won’t regret it!
Improving your sleep
Pregnant women will take any help they can get when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, right? Insomnia, aches and pains are prevalent in pregnancy, but exercise can offset at least some of that. (Though it unfortunately won’t reduce your need to get up and pee 14 times a night!)
Controlling Gestational Diabetes
Exercise in pregnancy can lower your risk of developing Gestational Diabetes by a staggering 27%! And for those who have already been diagnosed, exercise can dramatically help to manage it. According to Diabetes in Control, “dietary improvements and regular physical activity are frequently sufficient to manage hyperglycemia”.
Improving your self image
Exercise makes you feel healthy and good about yourself, and when your belly is rapidly expanding and your va-jay-jay is leaking and you cry at the drop of a hat, who couldn’t use a confidence boost!?
Preparing your body for birth and recovery
Birth is an intense, super physical process. You could be in labour for hours or even a couple of days – is your body ready for that kind of pressure? Keeping yourself fit can end up being a huge benefit once you hit the birthing suite. Exercise has even been shown to reduce time spent in labour!
Plus your recovery following birth may be significantly easier if you’ve kept up your muscle tone throughout your pregnancy.
Convinced to start exercising but not sure where to start?
We’ve gathered some great work-out ideas for pregnant women below.
Just remember to consult a doctor before taking on any new pregnancy exercise program, and don’t push yourself too hard.
This low-impact activity is perfect for women with a range of fitness levels. If you’re new to exercise, stick to the walking lane. Swimming laps or even a pregnancy fitness class in the water are also great ways to exercise in the pool.
2. Pre-Natal Yoga
Take advantage of that relaxin flowing through your body and enjoy some of your newfound flexibility! While some yoga activities aren’t recommended in pregnancy, a prenatal yoga class will be tailored for your (and bub’s) safety.
3. Walking or Jogging
Hit the pavement alone, with a friend, or with your pup and take in some fresh air. Walking is free, accessible and almost anyone can do it – all you need is a footpath or a park! But do be careful as your belly grows and it gets harder to see your feet – or any footpath hazards,
Grab a bike (or an exercise bike) and get pedalling! Cycling is great for your core and muscle tone, and efficient at getting the blood pumping.
5. Pregnancy Exercise Classes
Hit up Google and find some pregnancy exercise classes near you. Gyms, personal trainers and boot camps may have options specifically designed to support pregnant women.
Your body’s going through a lot, so treat it well and stretch out those muscles. Stretching may help ease those aches and pains, and will keep your muscles loose. It will also enhance your body’s range of motion, which can only be a good thing come delivery day.
Pilates strengthens your core, tummy and pelvic floor muscles, which are prone to become weaker in pregnancy. So it’s a no-brainer as to why pregnant women should give it a go!
8. Aerobics or Dance
Moving along to music can sometimes not feel like exercise at all! Sign up for a class with a friend and enjoy wiggling and bouncing your bump to a good beat. If possible find a pre-natal class, or familiarise yourself with any movements that are not recommended for pregnancy prior to attending.
You will need some discernment here (avoid anything that is above your fitness level or just looks unsafe for pregnancy). If it’s tough to get out of the house for a work-out, search for at-home pregnancy work-out ideas on YouTube.
If you’re more of a team player than a solo sweat-er, perhaps a team sport may be more your jam. Seek out low-impact ball sports such as tennis or racquetball.
Ready to get your sweat on? First, check out our 8 top tips for exercising safely in pregnancy. And make sure to enter our giveaway to win SRC pregnancy and recovery shorts to help support your changing body.