Moderate physical exercise during pregnancy is an important activity for most expectant mothers. In fact, exercising for at least thirty minutes each day is considered a safe and a beneficial practice for both mothers and babies. Current research does not indicate that it will increase the likelihood of preterm delivery for normal pregnancies; however, a doctor should be consulted before beginning or continuing any exercise regimen.
A good exercise program can increase energy, improve mood, allow for better sleep, strengthen muscles and increase endurance – useful for long deliveries. It can also improve balance, reduce back pain, and limit the amount of bloating, swelling, and constipation. It will also help the pregnant woman bounce back to her pre-pregnancy weight quicker after delivery.
There are several forms of exercise that are extremely helpful and allowable during pregnancy. Aerobic activities, such as walking, dancing, using an elliptical machine, using a rowing machine, and cycling on a stationary bike are fine for moderate sessions lasting no more than twenty to thirty minutes. It is important that a pregnant woman never exercise to the point of exhaustion or breathlessness. Aerobic exercise will stimulate the heart, lungs, muscles, and joints and lead to increased oxygen and nutrients for the baby. It may also decrease the chance of varicose veins and keep your body in overall excellent shape.
Weight training is another form of exercise that is beneficial during pregnancy. It is best to use lighter weights and do multiple repetitions of each exercise. It will help define muscles and give any woman a tones appearance. Do not lift weights over 25 pounds (11.3 kg) and avoid doing exercises where the weights are lifted above the head.
Water workouts are one of the best and most comfortable ways to exercise throughout the pregnancy. Water workouts include swimming, water aerobics, and strength training. The water allows the expectant mother to feel buoyant and to stretch out her body without putting pressure on the stomach area. Often, there are water workout classes at various gyms or recreation centers that are geared for pregnant women.
Yoga is another excellent option for exercise while pregnant. The emphasis should be placed on breathing, relaxing, posture, and awareness of the body during pregnancy. Yoga will increase strength and endurance, if done on a regular basis. It will also work to improve circulation, alignment, posture, respiration and decrease normal aches and pains associated with pregnancy. Again, there are often opportunities to take classes that are designed for pregnant women.
One of the most recommended forms of exercise during pregnancy are kegels. Kegels are designed to strengthen the muscles that are used during delivery. A good obstetrician or gynecologist should be able to instruct a pregnant woman on the proper technique to perform kegels. Luckily, they are done rather inconspicuously so, they can be performed anytime and anywhere.
There are a number of exercise that should be avoided during pregnancy. In general, any exercise that has a jarring motion or is risky to the stomach area of the pregnant woman should not be done or should only be done with extreme caution. Some examples of activities that should be avoided include: jogging for long periods of time, horseback riding, waterskiing, alpine skiing, scuba diving, football, softball, sprinting, high-altitude hiking or skiing, biking on pavement, and ice skating.