Even on a good day, it’s tough to get out of bed in the morning and go for a run or leave the office after work and head straight to the gym. Getting exercise on a regular basis (even under the best of circumstances) can be tricky. So imagine being asked to exercise while pregnant. It sounds like a tall order, but it’s worth the effort. Here are five great reasons why.
1- Weight management
Weight gain during pregnancy can be a thorny issue since the amount of weight women should gain is not clear cut. Most women usually gain 25-35 pounds during pregnancy but ideally, this depends on your starting weight. For example, a woman who was average weight before getting pregnant may be encouraged to gain 25 to 35 pounds while those that are underweight or overweight may be asked to gain slightly more or less.
Your doctor will be happy to discuss this with you. It’s an important part of your health and that of your baby’s. Yet, whatever the case may be, exercise is a great way to maintain your weight gain while you’re pregnant.
2- Lower your risk of gestational diabetes
Gestational diabetes occurs when your body becomes resistant to insulin and your sugar levels become too high. You don’t have to be a previously diagnosed diabetic to develop gestational diabetes. It can happen to any women during any pregnancy. The complications of gestational diabetes include
- large babies at birth,
- difficulties with labor, and
- a newborn that is also born with high sugar levels.
A study done in 2011 showed that exercise can reduce your risk of developing gestational diabetes1. Many fitness activities are safe in pregnancy including things like
- stationary cycling, or low impact aerobics2.
If none of these sound appealing then consider other moderate exercises you can do. Just be sure to clear it with your doctor first.
3- Reduce swelling
Keeping active while pregnant can reduce the swelling during their second and third trimester. Swelling can affect the ankles, arms, legs, and pretty much any part of the body. Activities like walking, swimming, and other low-intensity cardio exercises help keep the limbs supple, increase circulation, and reduce swelling.
4- Exercising can help you lose weight after your pregnancy
The American Pregnancy Association (APA) recommends exercise during pregnancy for many different reasons, but one of those is that proper exercise throughout your pregnancy may actually help you lose weight after the delivery of your baby3. Exercise does not put you at risk for miscarriage and in a normal pregnancy is considered safe.
5- Improve symptoms like constipation and high blood pressure
Exercise can also play a role in improving other common pregnancy symptoms like constipation which is a huge source of discomfort for many women. Additionally, it can lower your blood pressure. And, women who exercised were more likely to deliver vaginally and had a lower chance of having a C-section than women who did not exercise4.
Exercising during pregnancy is generally safe, but just remember to start slowly and check with your doctor first.
1- Tobias, D. K., Zhang, C., Van Dam, R. M., Bowers, K., & Hu, F. B. (2011). Physical activity before and during pregnancy and risk of gestational diabetes mellitus. Diabetes care, 34(1), 223-229. http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/34/1/223.short
2- The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Physical Activity and Exercise During Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period. Committee Opinion. December 2015. http://www.acog.org/Resources-And-Publications/Committee-Opinions/Committee-on-Obstetric-Practice/Physical-Activity-and-Exercise-During-Pregnancy-and-the-Postpartum-Period
3- American Pregnancy Association. Exercise During Pregnancy. http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/exercise-during-pregnancy/
4- Science daily. The benefits of exercise during pregnancy. Jan 2016. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/07/160707102622.htm