Exercise is a very crucial part of a healthy and active lifestyle. However, when it comes to exercising for two, the benefits are double! So, if you know someone who is pregnant, encourage them to exercise - they need all the support they can get!
Benefits of Exercising
Exercise is a mood booster. Because exercise increases the secretion of endorphins, brain chemicals that make one feel good; it is therefore very relaxing and calming to exercise. Studies have shown that exercise during pregnancy is correlated with a lower risk of anxiety as well as depression
Exercise during pregnancy may also play a role in decreasing the risk of gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes in which blood sugar is not regulated properly and is experienced for the first time during pregnancy. It usually goes away when mothers give birth, but if not managed well by proper eating and exercise supervised by your doctor, it may have serious complications!
Exercise improves your blood and oxygen flow and thus provides better circulation between you and your baby. The blood is purified from carbon dioxide more properly, more oxygen reaches your baby, nutrients are better transported through the placenta and toxins are more excreted!
Exercise also provides you with energy! Because it improves blood circulation as well as strengthens both muscles and bones, it will decrease any heavy load or sluggishness you are feeling and will keep you energized and active all throughout your pregnancy.
Exercise helps regulate your blood pressure. This way, it can aid in decreasing the risk of preeclampsia – high blood pressure experienced with pregnancy. It is important to discuss everything with your doctor, of course.
With pregnancy, there is a lot going in your life! Exercise can thus help in relieving stress and anxiety at all times. It is the time you have for your own!
Studies have also correlated easier and smoother labor with how active your lifestyle is. Therefore, exercise may prepare you for labor, decrease the risk of preterm delivery and may assist in faster recovery from childbirth!
When you exercise, yes, you are definitely exercising for two! With an active lifestyle during pregnancy, this increases your baby’s chance to start his or her life with a healthy body that pumps with energy, with proper circulation and with a healthier body weight!
Swimming can be one of the most relieving
exercises when pregnant. ( photo source )
So what are some exercises that are pregnancy-friendly?
Swimming is by far the best exercise I recommend during pregnancy. Without putting pressure on your knees and swollen joints, swimming properly can help in keeping you active, decreasing joint and back pain as it will make you feel lighter while exercising!
Stretching is also a must during pregnancy. As smoothly as possible, try to stretch all your body from hips to thighs, ankles, waist, back, hips, calves and knees! These will help keep your motion flexible during pregnancy, help your edema, circulation and will help in decreasing any back pain.
You may also want to try some low impact aerobics that will increase your lung capacity and pump your blood properly. Just make sure to take it easy throughout your exercise.
Walking is also a very common exercise many pregnant mothers choose to go for in Lebanon. If you don’t usually walk, start smoothly 3 times per week and increase your speed and walking time a bit every week. Remember, no need to intensify your exercise regimen all at once! If you also jog or run, you can enjoy a bit of running but if you are new to this, talk with your doctor ahead of time.
Yoga is one more exercise that is gaining some popularity. Yoga can help you relax, breathe better and stretch more. However, it is very important not to go to extremes, check with your fitness trainer what moves are ok to perform and what to avoid and if any move doesn’t feel comfortable, avoid it!
Kegel exercises are as well a very important type of exercise all pregnant mothers can benefit from. The whole point behind them is to strengthen your muscles that hold up your uterus, bladder and bowls, thus helping you in labor and delivery. These exercises may also help in preventing hemorrhoids and support your muscles for baby growth. Fun part is that they can be done anywhere and at anytime! You just work on squeezing your pelvic muscles for five seconds then relaxing them, as if you are trying to stop urination or passing gas! Just repeat these exercises 10 times for 5 separate or consecutive times each day!
Walking is an easy exercise,
just make sure to hydrate well
( photo source )
It is very important to keep in mind that you should take things easy! Exercise is supposed to be fun, so if you think 30 minutes is too much, try breaking them into 2 separate 15 minute-exercise. Try your best to find your favorite exercise; after all, you want to enjoy it!
Keep in mind never to overdo it! You don’t want to over burden your heart and lungs and therefore, if you are new to exercise, start off slowly and if you are used to exercising, listen to your body and don’t exercise to a point where you are heavily perspiring and out of breath!
The position you choose during exercising is as important. Don’t lie on your back after the first trimester of pregnancy because this might restrict blood flow. Shift to your left side if you feel uncomfortable. Moreover, don’t perform exercises that decrease your ling space such as bending forward with your head down or eve curl-ups!
Don’t use exercise to lose weight while pregnant. Gaining enough weight if very crucial for you and especially your baby’s health. This is why it is crucial to always monitor your weight and discuss any weight loss with your doctor.
Keep yourself properly hydrated at all times. Hydrate before exercise, during (a whole glass of water every 10 to 15 minutes is necessary to replenish any fluids lost) as well as after exercise – meaning: hydrate well at all times!
Do not exercise in very humid, high temperature or high altitude areas.
Don’t go nuts over extreme exercising and don’t overburden yourself. Some sports such as basketball, football and volleyball may increase your risk of bumping into others and outdoor bicycling, skiing and horseback riding for example can all increase your risk of falling!Make sure to wear non-slippery shoes and choose stationery machines such as fixed bicycles instead of bicycling outdoors – this will decrease any chance of you tripping or falling down.
It is preferable not to exercise if you are anemic, if you have a history of miscarriages, if you have heart, lung, joint or muscles problems, if you have diabetes or preeclampsia or if you are expecting twins. This is why it is always crucial to consult with your doctor at all times.
Last but not least, listen to your body! If you feel dizzy, out of breathe, nauseated or if you feel some muscle weakness, chest pain or contractions, stopping and discussing it with your doctor is definitely best!
The benefits of exercising during pregnancy outweigh being a couch potato mama-to-be! You will be benefiting your body, your mood, your health as well as your baby’s! So find what exercise you like best and squeeze it in to exercise for two!
*This post is dedicated to my childhood bestie, Rita, who will be giving us Zoya in 3 weeks to come!
Information source: Baby center.com WebMD