Pregnancy, to some, is a time to quit all house chores, gym schedules and anything strenuous which is quite understandable because of all the phases that a pregnant woman has to go through. As a matter of fact, National Sleep Foundation says pregnant women should “get as close to eight hours (of sleep) a night” but this should be punctuated with some exercise. Yep. Exercise.
You probably know this already but just needed one more genie to say it to you before you hit the gym so here you go: as a pregnant woman, exercise should be an important part of your routine. The only exception to this is when complications surface. The American College of Obstetrics, in agreement with this, advises that pregnant women do “30 minutes or more of moderate exercise per day“.
The benefits derived from exercising as a pregnant woman are no different from exercising without a pregnancy but for your sake, let’s go over a few important ones.
- Gears you up for your daily activities. Being pregnant comes with a lot of weight addition that could make anyone at all extremely lazy. Even with the will to work, the body would trick the mind into believing that it can’t move an inch and so the whole day goes without any tangible achievements. However, if you can bring yourself to work out for at least, 10 minutes in the morning, there’s almost nothing that would hold you back from hitting your targets for the rest of the day.
- Prepares your muscles for the D-day. Exercises are a good way to tone the muscles and these muscles are no doubt, your biggest cheerleader when you hit the labor room. Your ability to push comes from the strength in your pelvic region so the process is made a tad easier with firm muscles.
- Lowers the risk of complications. Ironically, putting some strain on your body reduces the risk of having complications instead of causing more problems as a few believe. Dr Bruce Young helps clear the myth, “there is no real evidence that exercise is linked to miscarriage”. In fact, studies have shown that “exercise helps reduce the risks associated with hypertension and preeclampsia”. I for one can attest to this because while my first pregnancy, I had diabetes which was a major concern. The fear of going down that same lane came up during my second pregnancy but this time around, I was doing something differently: workouts. So far, I am free from diabetes and I’m seven months in!
- Body goals. The weight that comes with the foetus is usually distributed evenly so whether or not you had a snatched waist, you would lose most of it while carrying the baby. After delivery, it may be difficult to get back to shape and a good number of women never go back to shape so one way to avoid this is by working out even while pregnant. By the time the baby is delivered, hitting the gym won’t be strange.
Keeps your spirit high. Due to the constant mood changes experienced during pregnancy, depression is an issue a lot of pregnant women struggle with pre and post partum. So, in addition to therapy, this problem could be remedied with exercise as Erin, a prenatal trainer, says that “exercise keeps your endorphins (which are responsible for your excitement levels) flowing”. I also experienced a terrible phase of depression in the early months of pregnancy and although I did not go for therapy, I was able to clear my head with some good exercise routines.
We could go on and on but there’s no need repeating what you already know so instead, here are a few exercises you could do as a pregnant woman.
- Dancing (no jumping or excessive wriggling).
- Jogging (or running which shouldn’t exceed 30 minutes at a stretch).
- Stretching (but no bending over backwards or twisting).
This should have come in the beginning in case you started hopping up and down before getting to this point but I’d say it anyways: before you begin any exercise routine, check in with your doctor to know if it’s okay. Yes, I said exercises are really important but there’s always an exception to every rule so ask the doc to know if you are one exception.
As a mother, I can testify that this is probably one of the hardest things to do while pregnant so I’m not just writing from some random books on pregnancy. There were several times I wanted to throw in the towel on the whole workout thingy but I managed to keep pushing, even if it was just 20 minutes a day. It’s been several months since I had my last delivery and I am totally thankful to myself for summoning the strength to not give up.
One more thing! When your body says it’s tired, please listen to it and stop. You’re trying to stay fit not gather some biceps or get a snatched waistline so don’t overdo the work outs. Respect your body’s wishes (even beyond working out) to avoid any unfortunate event.
That said, I would be clearing your doubts (about yourself) and supporting your pregnancy journey by putting out another workout tutorial I did recently being pregnant. This would be released later this week so keep your eyes on the blog to avoid missing out on it.