Exercise and Pregnancy
Many pregnant women hold misconceptions about the importance and safety of physical exercise and believe exercise is unsafe or dangerous during pregnancy. Generally, physical activity benefits people. Pregnant women are not an exception! Pregnant women who exercise regularly have reaped far more health benefits than women who avoid physical activity during pregnancy.
What are the health benefits?
TThe health benefits of exercise during pregnancy are endless! Some of the benefits include:
- Healthy and controllable weight gain
- Prevention of health complications such as diabetes and premature labor
- Faster labor, easier delivery and decreased risk of a cesarean
- Stronger muscles and less risk of muscle ache and back pain
- More energy and less overall stress
- Many health benefits for the baby, including a stronger heart and healthy organs
- Quicker and easier weight loss after delivery
- Deeper and longer sleep
How do you know when to reduce the intensity of your exercise?
As a general rule, expectant mothers should perform high-intensity exercise only up until the point when they are out of breath. They should be tired but still able to have a conversation during their exercise. If they are out of breath to the point that they cannot speak, then they should reduce the intensity.
What sports should you avoid during pregnancy?
Mothers-to-be should avoid exercising flat on their back after the second trimester, as this can put pressure on the uterus. It is safe to train abs during the first trimester; however, this should be avoided during the second and third trimester. Sports that carry risks should also be avoided. This includes basketball, tennis, volleyball, and soccer, as they can cause abdominal injury. Similarly, horse riding, skiing, or cycling can be risky and dangerous, and it is best to avoid such sports throughout your entire pregnancy.
Exercise and hot temperatures
Exercising at extremely hot temperatures,including hot yoga, should be avoided as this can cause birth defects. The same can be said for relaxing in a sauna after a workout. It's not safe for pregnant women because it can cause hyperthermia, a condition that happens when your body temperature gets too high. Some studies suggest that spending too much time in a sauna or hot tub may make your body temperature too high and increase your risk of having a baby who has birth defects.
What if you are a beginner?
It is perfectly safe for beginners to start an exercise program while pregnant, provided that they move at a slow pace and have the clearance from their doctor to start. Expectant mothers should listen to their body and do what feels comfortable. If they feel weak or unwell, they should rest before continuing an exercise program.
Who should avoid exercise during pregnancy?
As long as you are healthy and have a normal pregnancy, then there is no reason for you not to exercise. However, pregnant women with health conditions should not exercise. This includes women with low placenta, threatened miscarriage, weak cervix, or a history of premature labor. In this case, you should always seek the advice of your doctor before engaging in any type of exercise.
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