Regular exercise builds bones and muscles, gives you energy, and keeps you healthy. Exercise is just as important during pregnancy. Being active and exercising at least 20 minutes on most days of the week can benefit your health in numerous ways, including:
- Reduces backaches, constipation, bloating and swelling
- Helps prevent or treat gestational diabetes
- Increases your energy
- Improves your mood
- Improves your posture
- Promotes muscle tone, strength and endurance
- Improves sleep.
Pregnancy causes many changes in your body, some of which will affect your ability to exercise. The hormones produced during pregnancy cause your ligaments and joints to become relaxed. Remember that during pregnancy you are carrying extra pounds — as much as 25 to 40 pounds at the end of pregnancy. The extra weight in the front of your body shifts your center of gravity and places stress on joints and muscles, especially those in the pelvis and lower back. The extra weight you are carrying will make your body work harder than before you were pregnant. Exercise increases the flow of oxygen and blood to the muscles being worked and away from other parts of your body, so it’s important not to overdo it.
Before beginning your exercise program, talk with your doctor to make sure you do not have any health condition that would limit your activity. Most forms of exercise are safe during pregnancy; however, some types of exercise involve positions and movements that may be uncomfortable, tiring or harmful for pregnant women. For instance, after the first trimester of pregnancy, women should not do exercises that require them to lie flat on their backs.
Certain sports are safe during pregnancy, even for beginners: Walking or swimming is good exercise for anyone. Cycling provides a good aerobic workout. Aerobics is a good way to keep your heart and lungs strong. Other exercises, if done in moderation, are safe for women who have done them for a while before pregnancy:
- Racquet sports
- Strength training
- Low impact aerobics
The following activities should be avoided during pregnancy:
- Water or snow skiing
- Contact sports
- Scuba diving.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, please contact the Center for Women’s Health at 913-491-6878.