Pregnant women who await their little bundle of joy have multiple concerns. Among those is whether or not she should take that extra step to stay fit even, while the whole world’s telling her to rest.
According to a report on Idiva.com, health experts have continued to emphasise on the importance of fitness and exercise even while a pregnant woman is about to pop out.
According to Shalini Bhargava, Performance-Enhancement Coach at JG’S Fitness Centre in Mumbai “If you were really active before your pregnancy, stay so. If you weren’t, now is a great time to start.”
Dr. Rita Bakshi, Gynecologist & Fertility Expert, International Fertility Centre, New Delhi, adds, “Exercising during pregnancy is important to be healthy and enable an easy delivery. It is the best way to ensure you have a safe and healthy pregnancy.”
For Ms. Shruti Saxena, Childbirth Educator at Mamma Mia Maternity Services, she explains, “It’s beneficial to work out during the entire nine months. Early pregnancy exercise improves the growth of the baby and decreases maternal symptoms, while late pregnancy exercise maintains fitness, limits weight gain and shortens labour. A lesser known benefit of exercise is the release of hormone endorphins – our natural relaxant, helping the mother stay calm and happy.”
So, here are 10 exercises that pregnant women can do without much trouble:
Walking is a great way to become physically fit. If you have not been a fit person, then start with slow walks that are less strenuous to the body.
Though some women might face trouble with walking due to swollen feet as they move forward in their pregnancy, but other than that walking is safe.
“30 minutes of walking three days a week is a good routine. However, during pregnancy, you’ll need to scale back on the intensity,” says Bhargava.Remember to walk on smooth surfaces that are free of potholes. Wear appropriate walking shoes and avoid crowded places.
Bhargava suggests, “Walking on the treadmill is ideal since you can control the terrain. Add moderate hills when you’re up to it; go flat when you’re not or if hills trigger calf cramps. If you’re a runner, let your body tell you when it’s time to switch to walking.”2. Dancing:Dancing is a fun way of staying fit. This is also one form of exercise that a pregnant woman and her baby will truly enjoy if you like to shake a leg.
“Don’t worry if it’s not pregnancy specific, it’s fine to keep going, as long as you pay attention to how your body feels and limit your intensity. Stay within the normal range of motion and tell your instructor you’re pregnant so that she can advice modifications wherever necessary,” adds Ms Bhargava.
Swimming is another fun way to workout, especially for women who love being in the water.
Dr. Bakshi says, “Swimming is good and has less chances of mishaps. Plus, exercising in water does not put pressure on your joints.”
Although, you might want to choose a stroke that will not cause trouble with your back, shoulders or neck. Diving and jumping should also be avoided.
Doing Pilates throughout your pregnancy will help keep you relaxed during delivery.
Shalini who is a Pilates instructor explains, “It helps maintain your abdominal muscle tone, which will support your growing belly, minimise back pain and give you more oomph for pushing during labor.
Although some mat classes can be problematic after the first trimester due the pressure on the back.
“Best to opt out of these exercises or use an angled foam spine support (found in most Pilates studios but not many gyms),” she suggests.
This will keep your head higher than your belly. You can still do the side-lying leg work, upper-body exercises and stretches. Try and avoid strenuous inversions, arm balance movements, and lying on your back.
5. Weight Lifting:
Most women who visit the gym do weight lifting which helps strengthen the core muscles. Pregnant women too can practice weight lifting in moderation.
Dr. Bakshi says, “Weight lifting prepares you body for the liftings you will do once the baby arrives and strengthens the muscles near the joints. But if you don’t feel comfortable don’t push yourself too hard.”
6. Kegel Exercises:
Named after the gynecologist who created them, Kegel exercises strengthen the muscles in the base of the pelvis.
Your body produces a hormone called relaxin during pregnancy. This hormone softens joints and ligaments to make the birth process easier, so gentle stretching is recommended after you workout. However, be cautious of over extending the joints as this may result in an injury, which could be permanent.
7. Indoor bicycling:
Peddling is good for circulation and increases oxygen and nutrients that the baby receives.
“The recumbent and upright bikes are both good options. Many women like the back support the recumbent offers, though in the third trimester your belly might get in the way of your knees,” says Shalini.
Physical exercise is any bodily activity that enhances or maintains physical fitness and overall health and wellness.
It is performed for various reasons including strengthening muscles and the cardiovascular system, honing athletic skills, weight loss or maintenance, as well as for the purpose of enjoyment.
Frequent and regular physical exercise boosts the immune system, and helps prevent the “diseases of affluence” such as heart disease, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and obesity.
It also improves mental health, helps prevent depression, helps to promote or maintain positive self-esteem, and can even augment an individual’s sex appeal or body image, which is also found to be linked with higher levels of self-esteem.