Exercise is a big concern for many women who discover they are pregnant. They often wonder: can I still exercise? Is it safe to exercise? What types of exercise is ok for me to do? How will I feel? When should I stop? There are so many unknowns and questions that come to mind when you first discover you are pregnant, so we want to answer some of those questions for you. In this article, we will discuss what is safe and what is not safe when it comes to exercise during your pregnancy.
Is it Safe to Exercise While Pregnant?
The short answer to this question is yes. The long answer is that there are certain exercises that are safe and others that are not. Overall exercising while pregnant can actually be very beneficial, but there are some exercises it is best to avoid due to complications that can occur.
Of course, the safety of exercising while pregnant is largely a case-by-case basis. Your fitness level, what trimester you are in, how you are feeling, and if you have a high-risk pregnancy are all factors that contribute to the safety of exercising while pregnant. It is best to discuss your fitness plans with your physician before starting on an exercise plan while pregnant.
For women with a vigorous exercise routine already set in place before they become pregnant, it is typically ok for them to continue with their routine. They may need to adjust the amount of time working out, or the intensity level as their pregnancy progresses, but overall it is generally ok to continue with your routine. For women who are starting an exercise routine when they become pregnant, they may want to start off slowly, and build up their routine.
Benefits of exercising during pregnancy
Numerous studies have shown that exercising while pregnant, can actually be incredibly beneficial. Not only to your current health, but also to your postpartum health. So while it may seem like that is the last thing on your mind, and not what you want to do, it can actually be incredibly beneficial.
When exercising safely and properly, exercising while pregnant has shown to:
- Decrease the chance of gestational diabetes. In an article published in BMJ, it was discovered that women who exercised while pregnant were less likely to develop gestational diabetes than their counterparts.
- Decrease chance of Cesarean section. In the same study from BMJ, women were also less likely to have to undergo a c-section during delivery.
- Boost your mood. As published in the Journal of Physiotherapy, women who exercise have a decreased chance of experiencing depression and anxiety throughout their pregnancy. This is believed to be due to the endorphins that are released during/after exercise.
- Lower Blood Pressure. Even limited physical activity can decrease your chances of getting preeclampsia as this study in the journal Biological Research for Nursing found.
- Fight Fatigue. Endorphins can also help fight fatigue that comes from pregnancy.
- Improve Sleep. Many women find that they fall asleep faster and stay asleep if they exercise during the day.
- Ease Pain. Due to the strengthening of your muscles through exercise. Some studies have found a possible correlation between exercise and less back/pelvic pain in the later trimester.
What exercises can you not do?
As the various research has shown, it is pretty beneficial to exercise during your pregnancy, but not all exercise is created equal. Particularly when it comes to pregnancy. For the most part, your regular exercise routine should be safe, but you may need to make a few adjustments. So while most exercise is perfectly safe, there are some you will want to avoid.
Here are some of the exercises you will want to avoid while pregnant:
- Any exercise with an increased risk of falling or getting pelvic injuries. This includes: horseback riding, diving, bungee jumping, impact sports, gymnastics, snowboarding/skiing, etc.
- Any exercises that include a change in altitude. Unless you already live in an area that is over 6000ft you will want to make sure you don’t go up too high. In addition you don’t want to go diving as this can cause decompression sickness in the fetus.
- Exercises that require you to lie flat on your back. This can cut off the circulation to your fetus and cause complications, so avoid this position as much as possible.
- Hot yoga/exercising in hot temperatures. You should try to avoid getting into hot temperatures as much as possible – this includes saunas, hot tubs, hot yoga, and steam rooms.
- Sudden jerky movements. This includes jumping, and bouncing – so don’t go on a trampoline anytime soon.
- Any exercise that requires you to hold your breath. You and your baby need a steady flow of oxygen.
How much should you exercise?
So, now that you know that you can/should exercise, and what exercises to avoid, let’s talk about how much and how long you should exercise during pregnancy. From the advice of many doctors it seems as though the best option is to limit exercise to 20 minute increments and to exercise 3-7 times a week.
It is all about listening to your body. If you exercise on a regular basis currently, you may be surprised to find out how quickly you become tired now. When you used to be able to do a 45 minute exercise routine with no problem, you may find yourself getting winded after just 10 minutes now. So listen to your body. If you are starting to feel fatigued, out of breath, or run-down – stop exercising. It can be frustrating to learn your new limits, but be kind to yourself, your body is trying to create another human inside of you.
Exercise after giving birth
After learning your new limits, working around them, and creating a new routine, you can be ready to jump back onto the band-wagon after giving birth. Try to refrain. Your body is still recovering from the nine months of pregnancy, and the hours of labor. It needs time to heal from these events before you can try to push yourself even further. And for some women, starting to exercise before your body is ready can cause even more problems.
If you are really concerned about getting back to exercising on a regular basis, consider investing in a postpartum girdle. These postpartum garments are designed to help you feel better sooner, and get you back up and going faster than you would have otherwise. Because of the compression and support that comes from the girdle, you will start to feel ready to exercise faster. And starting off with small household chores, walking, and stretching is a great way to start to feel better. A postpartum girdle makes sure that you don’t put any undue stress/pressure on your abdomen, and keep you healing at a steady pace.
So don’t be shy, try out a Bellefit postpartum girdle today! We promise you it will make all the difference in your postpartum recovery.