Women are encouraged to start or continue exercising in pregnancy to enjoy the benefits it brings, stay in shape, and prepare for labour and delivery. Regular exercise and maintaining a healthy lifestyle throughout your pregnancy helps you to stay healthy and fit. Exercising also enables correct posture and decreases discomforts such as back pain and lethargy.
Why is exercise vital during pregnancy?
Regular exercise helps to reduce back aches, constipation, bloating and swelling. It boosts our mood, energy levels and helps to sleep better. It prevents excessive weight gain, promotes muscle tone, strength and endurance. Exercise helps maintain cardiovascular fitness, improves balance and posture while helping to reduce stress, anxiety and depression. It also maintains blood pressure and prevents Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). It promotes a higher incidence of vaginal delivery and reduces caesarean birth/operative delivery. It also helps in postnatal recuperation and reduces urinary incontinence. Pregnant women should do at least 4 to 5 days of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, such as brisk walking, Yoga.
Exercises recommended during pregnancy?
Over exertion may result in overheating which can affect the development of the baby. Hence, it is suggested to do workouts at moderate intensity. Low impact exercises are safe and beneficial. Walking is a great exercise for beginners. It provides moderate aerobic condition with minimal stress on joints. Resistance exercises with relatively lower weights/resistance bands, stretching exercises, yoga and pelvic floor muscle training are great exercises that can be done during pregnancy.
Can all pregnant women exercise?
All women with uncomplicated pregnancies can exercise regularly. Women with severe complications are advised not to do moderate workouts as well. These are women with Severe Anaemia, Heart disease, Severe hypertension, women diagnosed with placenta praevia or had episodes of unexplained bleeding. Avoid all activities where an injury or pressure on the abdomen is likely.
Tips to follow during pregnancy
Don’t exhaust yourself and aim for 150 minutes of moderate exercise over a week. Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. Wear loose and breathable clothing, keep your heart rate below 150 bpm, and remember to warm up. Do not exercise for more than 60 minutes at a time.
Exercises to avoid throughout pregnancy
· Avoid lying on your back for more than 10 minutes
· Avoid high impact exercises or activities that may result in heavy fall
· Avoid heavy weight lifting, hot Pilates
· Avoid exercising at higher altitude
· Avoid contact sports
Balanced exercise can help cope with the physical changes of pregnancy and build stamina for the challenges ahead. Continue to exercise during pregnancy to enjoy benefits. Beginners can use pregnancy as a motivation to begin exercise.
Authored by Dr. Smrithi D Nayak, Consultant – Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Aster RV Hospital