Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy:
Exercise during pregnancy helps to alleviate many of the common problems of pregnancy. It improves circulation (which helps prevent constipation, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, leg cramps, and swelling of the ankles). It also prevents back pain by strengthening the muscles that support the back. Exercise has been shown to improve your mood lessen mood swings, improve your self-image, and allows you to feel a sense of control.
Exercise helps prepare you for childbirth. Some studies suggest that the fitness of the mother results in shorter labor, fewer medical interventions, and less exhaustion during labor. Being in shape will not decrease the pain, but it definitely will help give you the endurance needed to get through labor.
As your pregnancy progresses, your center of balance shifts, making falls more likely. Participate in activities such as swimming, walking or low-impact aerobic that do not put you at additional risk to slip or fall. Avoid such activities as downhill skiing, horseback riding, mountain climbing, and contact sports (like football or soccer) that could put you at risk for injury or a fall.
Before you begin exercising, remember that it is important to talk to your doctor. If you are already exercising, you may be able to keep up with your routine and adapt it as you grow. Keep your heart rate under 140 beats per minute and avoid overheating, especially in your first trimester.
Stop exercising if you have any vaginal bleeding, dizziness, faintness, shortness of breath, contractions, or nauseous feelings.
Pregnant women who perform Kegel exercises often find they have an easier birth. Strengthening these muscles during pregnancy can help you develop the ability to control your muscles during labor and delivery. Toning all of these muscles will also minimize two common problems during pregnancy: bladder leaks and hemorrhoids.
Kegel exercises are also recommended after pregnancy to promote perineal healing, regain bladder control, and strengthen pelvic floor muscles. The best thing about Kegel exercises is that they can be done anywhere and no one knows you’re doing them.
Many health care providers and fitness professionals say swimming is the safest exercise for pregnant women. Swimming keeps your body toned without adding weight and stress to your joints. When swimming you are raising your heart rate and enjoying a safe cardiovascular exercise that is not likely going to cause overheating. Avoid scuba diving or water skiing.
Walking is very beneficial because it is safe on your body. It is easier on your knees than running and can be easily worked into your schedule. Start slowly and be sure you stretch well before you begin. Set realistic goals and wear good shoes to decrease the risk of falling or pressure on your feet.
Running & Jogging:
Usually if you are in a habit of running, you can continue running. However, if you did not run before pregnancy, you may want to speak to your health care provider before you begin a running program. If you run, make sure you’re well hydrated, avoid over-heating yourself, and wear good shoes.
The best thing about biking is that the bike supports your weight, so there is less stress on your body. A stationary bike is great exercise because you have less of a chance of falling. As you grow, your center of gravity is shifting so you are at an increased risk of falling. As your abdomen grows, it can put a lot of stress on your back. Start slowly and do not overexert yourself.