What Exercises Are Safe During Pregnancy?
Commit to 150–180 mins of moderate aerobic exercises a week. Work the abs, quads, and glutes with light strength training and the pelvis, core, and spine with Pilates, which also improves flexibility and balance. Swim or do water aerobics to reduce edema and skin temp. and for better fetal cardiac response. Walk at least 6,000 steps a day to curb casual blood glucose hike. Do yoga to keep off prenatal depression and anxiety.
With so many hormonal changes, mood swings, bone and muscle transformations, weight gain, and what not, pregnancy is a roller coaster ride for women. And your ride might be even bumpier than your friend’s because pregnancy often means a different set of experiences for each woman.
But contrary to popular opinion, keeping active and fit helps the mother and the baby immensely, much more than seeking maximum “rest” during pregnancy does. More and more obstetricians and gynecologists are urging moms-to-be to indulge in some form of exercise or the other.
Exercise Helps Both The Mother And The Fetus
Several studies have been conducted to find out the effects of exercise on the mother and the fetus.
Exercise alleviates a lot of health risks like gestational diabetes—the diabetes that affects you during the late phase of pregnancy—and prepares you for a safe delivery and the baby for a smooth early life.
It might even help you give birth normally. Exercise during pregnancy is known to reduce the rate of cesarean and instrumental deliveries.1
And yes, as a bonus, it also helps fight weight gain during those nine months.2
Safe Exercises For Moms-To-Be
During pregnancy, a lot of your regular exercises may not get the nod of approval from your ob-gyn. These include running, sprinting, lifting heavy weights, kickboxing, and aerobics. So what are the best and safest exercises for you and your baby? Here are some low-impact exercise options you can discuss with your doctor.
Yoga Is The Way To Go!
Yoga is that one magic fitness form that works to integrate your mind, body, and soul. No wonder a lot of pregnant women seek refuge in it to ward off anxiety and to keep fit. Yoga is said to ease the process of childbirth as well.
Indian researchers studied two groups of pregnant women in their 20th to 36th weeks of pregnancy. While one group practiced integrated yoga, the other did standard prenatal exercises for one hour daily.
There were significant differences between data from the two groups. It was observed that the yoga group experienced less anxiety, depression, and pregnancy-related uncomfortable experiences, and its anxiety levels reduced by 15.6 percent, while the other group saw a rise by 13.7 percent in the same. However, the most pronounced results were seen in depression levels, which came down in the yoga group by a whopping 30.6 percent!3
Another study by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also concluded yoga to be a safe form of exercise during uncomplicated pregnancies, especially under the guidance of a certified yoga instructor.4
Be A Water Baby
Water aerobics and swimming are great low-impact exercises for you and your baby—they are soothing yet effective.
While high-intensity activities should be avoided during pregnancy to avoid exposing the mother and the fetus to various risk factors that could result in the restricted development of the fetus or premature birth,5 moderate exercise in water is good as it is not severe on the musculoskeletal structure of the mother and offers many benefits like reducing edema, which is the accumulation of fluid in the cavities and tissues of the body, and preventing an increase in maternal skin temperature.6
Water exercises also do a world of good to fetal cardiac response, as a study reports. It’s also comfortable as the water’s buoyancy makes it easier to hold poses as the water provides extra support by easing the burden on your limbs and spine.7 This means you can do more reps and get a better workout than you would on land. The only reason to not swim or try water aerobics during pregnancy is crowded and unsanitary pools.
Hit The Gym For Light Strength Training
Being pregnant does not mean taking a temporary hiatus from the gym. You can still work those weights and condition your muscles. All you need to do is modify your strength-training plan. Work the main damaged muscles during pregnancy like the abdominals, lower back muscles, quadriceps, pectorals, and glutes. You can also lift mild loads of 0.5 to 1 kg.8
Try Pregnancy Pilates
Pilates can be easily modified for the pregnant woman and works wonders for maintaining strength, flexibility, coordination, and balance. Pilates has a series of workouts dedicated to strengthening the pelvic muscles and is therefore quite an ideal choice for the mother and the fetus. A study published in the International Journal of Childbirth Education in 2013 states, “Pilates, a no- to low-impact mind-body exercise system, encourages the participant to focus on breathing, concentration, and core strength, making it a nearly ideal exercise choice for pregnant women.”9
Musculoskeletal problems are common among pregnant women. While you can’t do much about the physical and hormonal changes during pregnancy, much can be done to sail smoothly through the phase—strengthening the core through floor exercises is one.
Practicing pregnancy Pilates is beneficial in strengthening the core-stabilizing muscles around the pelvis and spine and improving the breathing pattern, thereby limiting any potential harm during pregnancy.10
Can’t Do Any Of These? Walk
Almost all ob-gyns would agree on this. Walking is by far the safest and easiest form of exercising. Though an American study proves that women can walk much more in their first trimester than in the third, it can still be safely practiced throughout the three trimesters.
According to a study, it is good for pregnant women, in case of uncomplicated pregnancies, to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercises per week, which translates to approximately 30 minutes per day for 5 days.11
A research conducted in Tokyo on 35 normal pregnant women revealed that walking daily decreases casual blood glucose levels in the second trimester of pregnancy, reducing the risks of gestational diabetes. The participants walked an average of 6,000 steps per day. The women who walked less than that saw a mild increase in casual blood glucose levels. Now you know you need to wear those comfy walking shoes and head to the nearest park.12
How Intense And How Long?
One of the biggest challenges while figuring out an exercise regimen during pregnancy is to know the best intensity and duration. How much is enough, and how long is too long?
A Spanish study concluded that 55- to 60-minute sessions of moderate exercise thrice a week throughout pregnancy do not pose any risk to maternal and fetal health. It also helped prevent extra weight gain compared with pregnant women who did not follow this type of an exercise regime. All participants in the study had uncomplicated pregnancies.13
Exercise clearly has lots of benefits during pregnancy. It not just helps you stay in shape, it also adds to both your and your baby’s health. Regular exercise also ensures easy delivery. So, walking, Pilates, or water aerobics, let us know what your pick is.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Barakat, Ruben, MireiaPelaez, Carmina Lopez, RocíoMontejo, and Javier Coteron. “Exercise during pregnancy reduces the rate of cesarean and instrumental deliveries: results of a randomized controlled trial.” The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine 25, no. 11 (2012): 2372-2376.|
|2, 13.||↑||Barakat, Ruben, Maria Perales, Mariano Bacchi, Javier Coteron, and Ignacio Refoyo.”A program of exercise throughout pregnancy. Is it safe to mother and newborn?.” American Journal of Health Promotion 29, no. 1 (2014): 2-8.|
|3.||↑||Satyapriya, M., R. Nagarathna, V. Padmalatha, and H. R. Nagendra.”Effect of integrated yoga on anxiety, depression &well being in normal pregnancy.”Complementary therapies in clinical practice 19, no. 4 (2013): 230-236.|
|4.||↑||Polis, Rachael Leigh, Debra Gussman, Paulina Osial, and Yen-Hong Kuo.”Safety of Yoga in Pregnancy .” Obstetrics & Gynecology 125 (2015): 21S.|
|5.||↑||Artal, R., and M. O’toole. “Guidelines of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists for exercise during pregnancy and the postpartum period.” British journal of sports medicine 37, no. 1 (2003): 6-12.|
|6.||↑||Committee on Obstetric Practice. “ACOG committee opinion. Exercise during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Number 267, January 2002. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.” International journal of gynaecology and obstetrics: the official organ of the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics 77, no. 1 (2002): 79.|
|7, 8.||↑||Roldan, O., M. Perales, S. Mateos, and R. Barakat. “Supervised Physical Activity During Pregnancy Improves Fetal Cardiac Response Revista Internacional de Medicina y Ciencias de la Actividad Física y el Deporte” International Journal of Medicine and Science of Physical Activity and Sport15, no. 60 (2015): 757-772.|
|9.||↑||Dillard, Dana M. “Perinatal Pilates.” International Journal of Childbirth Education 28, no. 1 (2013).|
|10.||↑||Balogh, A. “Pilates and pregnancy.” RCM midwives: the official journal of the Royal College of Midwives 8, no. 5 (2005): 220-222.|
|11.||↑||Kim, Youngdeok, and Eunhee Chung. “Peer Reviewed: Descriptive Epidemiology of Objectively Measured Walking Among US Pregnant Women: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2005–2006.”Preventing chronic disease 12 (2015).|
|12.||↑||Hayashi, Ayako, Masayo Matsuzaki, MomokoKusaka, Mie Shiraishi, and Megumi Haruna. “Daily walking decreases casual glucose level among pregnant women in the second trimester.” Drug Discoveries & Therapeutics10, no. 4 (2016): 218-222.|