Top 5 Types of Exercise for Pregnant Women
Pregnant and feeling exhausted? It’s totally normal! In their first trimester, many women don’t feel like doing much apart from ‘Netflix and chilling’. At the same time though, it’s worth trying to squeeze in even a little of the right kind of exercise, especially after the 14 week mark, as it’s important for maintaining your muscle strength.
It may sound hard to believe, but exercise in pregnancy can often give you more energy! It’s good to find types of exercise that you like so you’ll be motivated, but it should be exercise that is suitable considering you’re lugging your precious cargo.
Here are five of our favourite pregnancy appropriate types of exercise…
This old faithful tops the list because it can be done anywhere, is easy on the joints, and gets your heart rate up gently. Need we say more? Recreational walking (not stomping up a mountain with your hiking boots on) can be really beneficial for you and baby. Research has shown that women who exercise during pregnancy are less likely to have gestational diabetes 1, according to a recent study 2.
Swimming gets better and better the further along you are because the bigger your baby bump, the more you’ll love feeling weightless in the pool. Water can support up to 90% of your body weight and keep you feeling relaxed. Any exercise in water is more forgiving on your joints, and when you reach the stage where your legs and feet are swelling up, the water might help to calm it a bit. Many mums-to-be enjoy aquanatal classes because they’re specially designed and a nice way to meet other ladies who are expecting.
Yoga is less of a strain on the joints than many other sorts of exercise (such as aerobics), and it’s great for stress 3, muscle tone and flexibility. It has even been known to improve birth weight and decrease preterm labour 4. But be very careful not to overdo it or attempt the wrong poses – some yoga postures are simply unsuitable for mums-to-be. It’s best to find a specialist pregnancy yoga class, or at the very least an instructor that is appropriately trained and qualified to work with pregnant women (and tell them you’re expecting!).
Pilates can be great because it works to strengthen some of the key muscles that can come under strain when you’re expecting – your pelvic floor and tummy muscles (the area often known as ‘the core’) 5. You’ll learn the right posture to build your strength, and you’ll become much more conscious of how you carry yourself – very helpful in pregnancy. What’s more, you’ll work on controlling your breathing – which is handy for the day the baby decides to arrive! But as with yoga, be sure to find an instructor that is properly trained and qualified to work with pregnant women.
5. Gentle Aerobics
Here the emphasis is on gentle. That means one foot on the ground the whole time, no jumps or kicks, no high impact moves. Always tell your instructor that you’re pregnant and ensure she/he is qualified to guide you. If possible, find a pregnancy aerobics class. It’s also a great way to meet other expecting women.
ADVICE FOR EXERCISING WHEN PREGNANT
- If in doubt, ask your midwife or obstetrician.
- Avoid overheating – drink plenty of water, don’t exercise in hot or clammy environments and don’t get too out of breath. Unlike exercise for women who aren’t pregnant, mums-to-be should be able to hold a conversation while they exercise.
- Take extra caution if you have a ‘complicated pregnancy’ or a health condition that could affect you – for example multiple births, gestational diabetes, cervical weakness, high blood pressure, problems with your joints, and lung or heart problems. This list is by no means exhaustive, so the golden rule is to check with your health professional.
Lastly, enjoy yourself! Exercise releases more of your happy hormones like serotonin – a welcome addition when you have so much to deal with.