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How Does Exercise Help During Pregnancy?

Exercise helps during pregnancy by increasing overall health, improving posture, and preventing complications such as hypertension and obesity. It also prevents aches and discomfort that are common during pregnancy.

Exercise helps during pregnancy in a variety of ways including increasing overall health, boosting mood, improving posture, and helping maintain normal glucose levels. It also helps prevent complications such as hypertension and obesity. During pregnancy, exercise is a great way to prevent common aches and discomfort such as lower back pain and fatigue.

Table of Contents

What Are the Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy?

Exercise during pregnancy provides a vast number of benefits. Even a light walking routine can help improve your overall health and allow you to enjoy your pregnancy. It is important to stay active during your pregnancy to help your body stay strong and ward off pain, discomfort, and illnesses.

WebMD reports evidence that shows a regular exercise routine can help you prevent gestational diabetes, which can develop during pregnancy. There is a long list of benefits that come from exercising during pregnancy.

Helps Maintain Healthy Blood Pressure

It is common for some women to experience hypertension during pregnancy. An alarming rise in blood pressure is one of the signs of preeclampsia. This dangerous complication can be avoided with a simple daily walk.

Decrease Propensity to Pregnancy Complications

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that exercise helps to reduce various pregnancy complications. These include gestational diabetes, urinary incontinence, preeclampsia, cesarean delivery, macrosomia, pelvic girdle pain, and many others.

Enhances Your Mood

Whether you’re pregnant or not, exercise has been known to improve mood. Studies show that exercise during pregnancy helps the body release endorphins, which decreases anxiety and stress. This is especially important since women are prone to depression during pregnancy.

Decreased Risk for Developing Gestational Diabetes

Extensive evidence proves the prevention of Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) by maintaining a consistent exercise routine. GDM can have adverse effects on the health of pregnant women including premature births, breathing difficulties, and hypoglycemia.

Increased Physical Endurance and Muscle Strength

Exercise provides pregnant women the ability to improve muscle mass and enhance physical endurance. As the body goes through the various physical changes pregnancy brings, it is important to be at the best fitness level. By incorporating moderate levels of resistance training and cardio, women can become stronger and increase stamina during pregnancy.

Improved Balance, Core, and Posture

As published by the National Library of Medicine, women gain around 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy. By maintaining a strong core, good posture, and stable balance, women can carry the extra weight much easier.

Since the body’s center of gravity shifts when the abdominal area enlarges, women have to become accustomed to coordinating their movements with their new bodies. Improving balance, core strength, and posture helps prevents falls, aches, and complications.

Improved Levels of Stress and Anxiety

Since women are prone to becoming depressed during pregnancy, exercise is a great way to manage mental health Since women are prone to becoming depressed during pregnancy, exercise is a great way to manage, according to Amanda Levison, Harrisburg therapist, and owner of Neurofeedback & Counseling of PA. Even a short walk each day will help clear the mind, increase oxygen intake, and feel a sense of ease. To gain the most benefit, stay focused while exercising. Avoid using your cell phone or any type of multitasking. The more you lose yourself in the moment, the more relaxed you’ll feel.

Improve Cardiovascular Health and Stamina

Activities that improve heart health and stamina include walking, cycling, yoga, aerobics, swimming, pilates, and low-impact sports. It’s important to stay hydrated and not strain yourself. Always warm up before you begin and end your routine with a nice stretching session.

Decrease Blood Pressure

Exercise allows your blood pressure to decrease and stay at healthy levels. Inflammation can be common during pregnancy, which makes keeping your blood pressure in check that much more important. Deep breathing exercises are a great way to keep your blood pressure at healthy levels.

Relief Back and Pelvic Pain

Exercise is a great way to keep the spine healthy. By ensuring that your vertebrae stay aligned, you’ll have a much more pleasant pregnancy. In addition, when your spine is in alignment, the nerve energy can flow freely to muscles and organs. This means that all your body systems will function optimally.

Avoid Tiredness and Fatigue

While pregnant, it is common to feel more tired than usual. However, a regular exercise routine will help you feel energetic. You don’t need to become a super athlete to improve your energy levels and endurance. A simple walk will do the trick. Especially when you go outdoors no matter the weather.

Improved Quality of Sleep

Being pregnant can interrupt your sleeping patterns. Especially during the last stage of your pregnancy. Exercise allows your body and mind to relax, giving you a better chance to experience more quality sleep.

Relieves and Prevents Constipation

Constipation is one of the complications you can have during pregnancy. This occurs more often when women have sedentary lifestyles. Regular exercise helps digest food more easily and stimulates your bowels. Try exercising for 20-30 minutes a few times per week to see the difference.

Shortens Post-Delivery Recovery

Women who exercise can recover much faster after delivery than those that don’t. This is because the body’s ability to heal is enhanced at higher fitness levels. However, you must avoid post-partum exercises such as abdominal crunches if you are healing from scars. You should also avoid lifting objects heavier than your baby. It is best to keep an exercise routine throughout your pregnancy, but give your body time to rest after the baby arrives.

Who Should Avoid Exercising During Pregnancy?

ACOG (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) suggest that exercise should be avoided when the following conditions apply:

  • Pregnancies of twins or triplets
  • Heart and lung conditions
  • High blood pressure or preeclampsia
  • Extreme anemia
  • Other serious conditions as recommended by your doctor

What Type of Exercise Activities Are Safe During Pregnancy?

It is best to choose exercise activities that you enjoy. Whether you are pregnant or not, it doesn’t make sense to stress your body and mind while exercising. Choose activities that feel good and keep you engaged. You can never go wrong with walking, swimming, dancing, and using your body to perform natural movements.

What Type of Exercises Should I Avoid While Pregnant?

Pregnant women should avoid high-impact sports such as soccer, basketball, volleyball, and other contact sports. Other extreme sports such as mountain biking, skiing, and gymnastics should also be avoided. The key is to avoid heavy bouncing as you would experience during horseback riding.

What Exercises Are Recommended During Pregnancy?

You should select exercise activities that don’t require a high level of effort. These include walking, cycling, swimming, low-impact aerobics, yoga, pilates, and light strength training. This list is not limited and may vary according to the person’s pre-pregnancy fitness level and other factors.

Low-Impact Exercises: Walking, Cycling, Pilates, or Swimming

Some of the best activities while pregnant include low-impact exercises that don’t require heavy bouncing or lifting. These exercises relax the body and mind while providing enough cardiovascular exercise and muscle strengthening.

Lightweight or Bodyweight Resistance Training

Another great form of exercise along with cardio training is light resistance training. Using your own body to increase your resistance fitness level is a great way to get fit. If you do choose to use weights, only select very light ones or use resistance bands.

Yoga and Stretching Helps to Relax Pelvic Floor Muscles

Exercise must always include stretching. It releases lactic acid and speeds up muscle recovery. Try a prenatal yoga routine because it is specially designed for pregnant women. Stretching is an effective way to warm up and cool down when doing any type of exercise routine.

Be Aware of Your Body

There is no cookie-cutter approach to fitness. If possible, work with a personal trainer who works with pregnant women. Your routine must be customized according to your health conditions, abilities, and goals. Only you, however, know your limits. Instead of trying to reach a prescribed plan, be your own expert and listen to your body’s subtle messages.

Look Out for These Warning Signs When Exercising While Pregnant

Pregnant women should not perform strenuous exercise routines. If you feel faint, dizzy, or nauseous, you should stop exercising immediately. Also, stop exercising if you experience swelling of the face, hands, or feet, have heart palpitations, or experience chest pain.

If you experience an unusual symptom, take a seat, breath deeply, stay hydrated, and allow your body to rest. If your symptoms don’t go away, you must seek immediate medical attention. It is not the time to strain yourself while you’re pregnant. Seek exercises that are relaxing and soothing to your mind and body.

What Changes in the Body Affect Exercise While Pregnant?

When you’re pregnant, a higher amount of oxygen is directed to major muscles and organs. This causes an increased need for oxygen and it doesn’t allow you to have the same stamina for strenuous exercises.

Other changes that affect exercise include:

  • A change in the center of gravity
  • Loose joints
  • Limited lung capacity
  • Weight gain

Exercises That Help You Prepare for Labor and Delivery

The goal during pregnancy is to help expand your pelvic floor muscles. A deep squat, child’s pose, the quadruped cat/cow, perineal bulges, and perineal massage help you ease discomfort during and after labor and delivery.

Child’s pose

Try this yoga pose to open up the pelvic floor muscles.

This yoga pose helps lengthen pelvic floor muscles and ease discomfort. It is one of the most relieving exercises to ease the pressure off your hip bones and abdomen.

Deep Squat

Squats help you build strength while increasing the range of motion of the core, hips, pelvis, and glutes. It improves posture and prepares the body for labor.

Quadruped Cat/Cow

This soothing yoga pose eases lower back pain. It also helps you keep your spine aligned. It is a safe pose that tones abdominal muscles and helps position the baby before delivery.

Perineal Bulges

These exercises allow you to push during delivery without holding your breath. They allow you to prevent the rupture of membranes and other injuries. They should not be performed excessively and should only happen during the last three weeks of your pregnancy.

Perineal massage

To prevent tears during labor and make delivery much easier, perineal massage should be practiced after the 35th week of your pregnancy. Messaging the perineum daily for 10 minutes softens and lengthens the tissues.

FAQ

How does exercise affect the baby during pregnancy?

Regular exercise while pregnant promotes a healthy birth weight and fetal development. It also ensures there’s enough blood flow to the uterus and placenta, reducing birth complications.

Why is exercise important for pregnancy?

Pregnant women who exercise improve their chances for a better overall experience and ensure they are fit to handle the challenging physical changes that occur. In addition, they decrease the risk of complications and pain.

What month should I start exercising during pregnancy?

It’s best to consult your physician as each case is different. Generally, you can start in the first trimester and gradually increase your activity level. Your pre-pregnancy fitness regimen will also influence the way you will transition into your exercise program while pregnant.

Does exercise help the baby grow in the womb?

Yes, exercise promotes fetal growth because there’s more blood flow to the uterus and placenta. This increases the delivery of oxygen and vital nutrients that help the baby grow. It results in a healthier birth weight and a stronger immune system.

What happens to the fetus during exercise?

During exercise, the mother has increased blood flow which means the fetus receives higher oxygen levels. This leads to a higher amount of nutrients and a temporary change in fetal heart rate.

Are there any risks to myself or the baby if I exercise during pregnancy?

Exercise that over-exerts the mother can cause injury to her and the baby. Also, excessive heat while exercising can cause dehydration. It is important to speak to your physician about your exercise regimen and be aware of warning signs such as pain, bleeding, and fatigue.

What pregnant exercises are helpful for an easy delivery?

Exercises that are particularly helpful to have an easy delivery include Kegels, squats, prenatal yoga, and walking.

Is it too late to start working out during pregnancy?

No, it’s never too late to start working out. You may start with moderate exercise such as walking and gradually increase your activity level. Before starting a new exercise routine, consult your doctor especially if you have any medical conditions or complications.