During the pregnancy period, your body goes through a lot of physical and hormonal changes, as you are carrying another life inside of you. You may have already heard about the benefits of regular exercise during pregnancy and proper sleep, and the effect of pregnancy exercises on both your health and the health of your baby.
While it is very beneficial for women to exercise during pregnancy, studies have not yet determined the right amount of workout that your body needs, and how much it "too much". Based on your previous health habits and exercise patterns, there are some general guidelines and rules as to what exercises you're allowed to practice and which you should avoid during the pregnancy.
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How your body changes during the pregnancy period
Before we get into the exercise during pregnancy aspect of this article, you should first be aware of the changes that happen to your body during the nine months of your pregnancy. Of course, we're all aware of the significant weight gain during pregnancy. This makes it difficult to do exercises that you could earlier perform with ease, like running and jogging. Hence, your exercise during pregnancy would have to be different, to suit your new body. Also, the ligaments and joints around your pelvic region will start to loosen up in preparation for labor, so you are at risk of injuring yourself as well, if you don't follow a proper exercise routine, that suits your pregnant body. However, you should also be mindful of the exercises to avoid during the pregnancy period.
How often should your exercise during pregnancy period be?
While it's very important to exercise during pregnancy, it is also very important to know how much your body can take and not over exert yourself. For women with low risk pregnancies - that is, those which are not under any medical risk - a routine of moderate intensity pregnancy exercises for half an hour is recommended up to four times a week. The intensity of the workout can be modified according to the previous experience of the mother with physical exercise. You can consult your doctor with regard to this, and seek their advice as well, as they can also guide you regarding the exercises to avoid during the pregnancy period.
What is moderate intensity of exercise?
Moderate pregnancy exercise varies from woman to woman based on their prior exercise history, but usually if you cannot maintain a proper conversation during the workout, you are exceeding the "moderate" intensity of exercise.
Types of exercise you can do during the pregnancy period
Here are some low impact pregnancy exercises that any woman can engage in without causing any risk to your body:
Warming up and stretching
Whether you're pregnant or not, warm up and stretching should always be the first thing you do before you perform any exercise, and especially if you have not exercised in a long time. Take a good 15-20 minutes to stretch your spine and muscles and prepare your body for the exercise routine.
Walking or Power walks
Walking is one of the most common exercises a woman can do during the pregnancy period. It is safe, as low risks of injury and can be performed by almost anyone. You can adjust the pace according to your convenience and these can also be done in groups so you have company during your exercise session.
Swimming is very good for your body even if you're not pregnant, as swimming engages all the muscles in your body to work at the same time.
Apart from swimming you can also do some water activities like water aerobics or water walking, which are both safe and fun sports.
Water aerobics is also great for cardiovascular fitness and improve your balance, without the risk or falling or injury. It also doesn’t strain your muscles a lot, and is great for women who experience back pain or leg swelling, both common symptoms during the pregnancy period.
Out of all the antenatal exercises, yoga is a great way to keep yourself fit and active. Yoga during pregnancy is quite different from normal yoga, and involves a lot more stretching and low impact floor exercises, that work on the overall wellness of the body.
Working your pelvic muscles is a good way of antenatal exercises to strengthen your pelvic muscles before you go into labor. Pelvic tilt is the easiest and most effective pregnancy exercise that doesn’t put your body into any risk.
Stationary cycling is a big calorie burner and also helps in strengthening your leg muscles, and there are very less chances of injuring your body with this pregnancy exercise. This also can be done as group exercise in a group or a class.
Weight training and running
If you've previously had experience with weight training and running/jogging, you can do these exercises during pregnancy as well at a moderate-intermediate level.
Exercises to avoid during the pregnancy period
While there are a lot of benefits of exercise for pregnant women, some pregnancy exercises are injurious to your body and you must know the exercises to avoid during the pregnancy period.
Some of the exercises to avoid during pregnancy you must keep away from are:
1. Contact sports that involves participation with other people, as that may result in injuring your body and putting the baby's health at risk should be added to the list of exercises to avoid during the pregnancy period.
2. Pregnancy exercises that involve lying on your stomach region.
3. Exercises during pregnancy that require you to hold your breath for a long time, like underwater swimming, scuba diving, or holding your breath during yoga.
4. While talking of exercises to avoid during the pregnancy period, any activities that risk you falling such as cycling, rock climbing, etc.
5. Any antenatal exercises that require you to be at a higher altitude, like skiing, etc. Not only are these very dangerous, but being at such a high altitude puts the health of the baby at risk.
6. Any exercise for pregnant women that involves you standing for a long period of time.
7. After the first trimester, you should try to avoid lying down on your back and doing pregnancy exercises as this increases the risk of hypotension, and reduces blood flow to the fetus.
8. Abdominal exercise during pregnancy is advised to be avoided completely during the pregnancy period.
These are some of the most important exercises to avoid during the pregnancy period.
All in all, exercise during pregnancy is a great way to keep both your and your baby's health in check and to keep fit. Just remember to do everything in moderation and not over exert yourself, and there shouldn't be any complications, and always be aware of the exercises to avoid during the pregnancy period.