Exercising during pregnancy can have many benefits. It can help to relieve aches and pains that are common throughout pregnancy, manage weight gain, help to facilitate an easier labor, and even help a woman to recover more quickly after giving birth. It is very important, however, to find safe exercises for pregnant women. In addition, before a woman starts an exercise program during pregnancy, she should contact her doctor and make sure it is safe, as some pregnant women have underlying conditions that make any significant exercise dangerous.
If the doctor provides his or her stamp of approval, there are many safe exercises for pregnant women. There are also some important considerations to keep in mind while exercising, though. First, it is important for a pregnant woman to eat enough calories for herself and her growing baby, as well as to drink plenty of water while exercising and throughout the day. Pregnant women typically need to increase their daily caloric intake between 300 and 500 calories. If dizziness occurs at any point during exercise, immediately stop, rest, and have some water or juice.
Be sure to always warm up and cool down; even though certain exercises for pregnant women may be safe, that doesn't mean injury cannot occur if they are approached too quickly. While exercising, be sure not to overdo it and get too hot; exercise in moderation is the goal for pregnancy, not exercise for weight loss. Finally, a pregnant woman should not do any exercises while laying on her back, particularly after the first trimester. This can restrict blood flow to the uterus. Exercises that involve deep squatting should also be avoided, as they could put undue pressure on the cervix.
One of the best safe exercises for pregnant women is simply brisk walking. Walking is a great aerobic activity that gets the heart rate up, but is not particularly strenuous on the body. It can be done on a treadmill or outside, and is something that can be continued after the baby is born. Swimming is another excellent and safe exercise, because it is virtually zero impact on the joints yet offers many aerobic benefits.
Other safe exercises for pregnant women include low-impact or aqua aerobics, and stretching exercises such as yoga or Pilates. Pilates is especially helpful because it helps to strengthen the core muscles, which is particularly important while pregnant. There are many prenatal yoga and Pilates classes available at gyms and wellness centers. Some light weight training can be another great way to exercise during pregnancy, and can be an addition to an aerobic routine such as walking or aqua aerobics.