Exercise can do a lot of good things to a woman’s pregnant body. It can:
- Improve your mood
- Improve your sleep
- Ease pregnancy aches and pains
- Prevent gestational diabetes
- Prevent preeclampsia
- Strengthen muscles
- Build stamina
- Give more flexibility
- Prepare the body for childbirth
- Manage weight gain
- Help the body get back in shape post-pregnancy
But remember, you can’t do just any exercise. Your body is changing shape and is already stressed out with the changes of pregnancy, and so there are limits to what you can do for a workout.
As recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the safest exercises for pregnancy are moderate workouts that meet these criteria:
- Can get the heart pumping just a bit faster than normal to help you burn calories,
- Can stretch the muscles without causing undue stress for you and your baby, and
- Can be done for at least 30 minutes a day for 4 to 5 days a week
These are some exercises that are safe for expectant moms to do:
Swimming – The most ideal cardiovascular exercise for pregnant women that’s highly recommended by most healthcare providers and fitness experts is swimming. It moves both large muscle groups (the arms and legs), stretching joints and ligaments, strengthens muscles, and builds stamina. Swimming is also very comfortable for pregnant tummies, allowing the body to become weightless in water and preventing overheating as the body cools off continuously.
Walking – A very easy cardiovascular exercise to do throughout the nine months of pregnancy is walking. It is light on the ankles and knees, which can easily get very uncomfortable and lead to swelling as you grow heavy with child. If you’re a beginner, start with slow walks and gradually build up to a brisk pace and maintain this for 20 to 30-minute sessions.
Aerobics – Stick to low-impact workouts that have no jumping, high kicks, leaps, or fast running. Always be careful about movements that can stress out your joints and cause muscle cramps. Don’t get to the point of exhaustion, stop even before you feel tired.
Dancing – Another great cardiovascular exercise that can get your heart pumping, while toning your muscles and increasing your flexibility is dancing. Stay away from any leaping, jumping or twirling movements.
Yoga – Choose gentle poses to maintain your flexibility and strength without causing strenuous impact to your joints. Add a cardiovascular workout to supplement your yoga routine to keep your heart healthy.
Stretching – Gentle stretches can help loosen tight muscles and release tension. Avoid straining your muscles when you stretch. As with yoga, supplement with a cardiovascular exercise for overall workout.
Weight training – The safety rule here is to increase the repetitions but decrease the weight. Lifting weights is great for building strength and stamina, which you will need during the strenuous time of labor and delivery.