Exercising during pregnancy can sometimes seem like a daunting task: you are tired, feel slow and heavy, and just want to spend time resting in bed with your feet up. While it may seem like the last thing you want to do, there are exercise options that are low-key and easy on your body that can help you feel energized and active.
The benefits of exercise in pregnancy can not be understated. There is a direct link between your health, and the health of your baby. Exercise can help to boost your energy, relax better at the end of the day, and can make sure your body is fit and healthy for childbirth. Exercise increases circulation, which means healthy blood flow to the fetus and placenta. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that pregnant women exercise for at least 30 minutes per day, several days a week.
Some good exercises that you can start with are walking, swimming, and yoga. Walking is one of the best, cheapest ways to keep yourself fit during your pregnancy. Walking is low impact, and all you need is a pair of shoes (and clothes!). Ensure that you wear supportive shoes with appropriate cushioning for your feet: you may notice that your feet swell and feel puffy during your pregnancy, so it is important to wear shoes that fit your feet well, and are not too tight. During pregnancy, your ligaments and joints become more flexible due to the pregnancy hormone progesterone. In addition, your center of gravity changes as the weight of your fetus pulls towards the front of your body, which may cause problems with balance. This means that you need to take extra care when walking on rough tracks or on uneven surfaces. Also ensure that your shoes have good ankle support to prevent any injuries from occurring.
Walking in groups with other people has been shown to lower levels of depression, and enhance mental health. Most people think that depression is only common after pregnancy, rather than during, but for many women, this isn’t the case. Pregnancy can be tiring, and you may experience emotional ups and downs due to the fluctuation of hormones throughout your pregnancy. Join a walking group with other pregnant mothers to tackle three birds with one stone: get exercise, elevate your mood, and meet other Moms-to-be!
Another excellent way to stay healthy during pregnancy is to swim. Swimming takes the stress off your joints and ligaments, and allows you to feel weightless. Like walking, it is another low-impact activity that can provide you with significant cardiovascular benefits, and reduce strain on your body. The cool water also prevents you from overheating, and supports your body so as to prevent injury. No adaptations to activity level need to be made when swimming; simply swim at a speed and level that you feel comfortable with. One caution is that diving should not be performed during pregnancy.
Finally, yoga is a great way to stay in shape throughout your pregnancy, and afterwards. There are many prenatal and postnatal classes available worldwide, that are specifically tailored to you and your growing belly. Yoga can help to improve your posture, flexibility, and breathing skills, which can be put to good use during labor and birth. Many prenatal yoga classes also focus on mindfulness and connecting with your unborn child as you breathe: this can help you to build a relationship with your baby before they are born. Pregnancy can also be a time of stress and worry as you prepare for the new addition to your family. With prenatal yoga, you can take time to relax and unwind, and slow your heart rate down. Relaxing and taking time to breathe deeply can help to lower your blood pressure, which is an important aspect of your health during your pregnancy.
With any exercise, ensure that you take plenty of breaks, and stay well hydrated. Do not overexert yourself, or undertake any sports where you could risk a significant fall. Instead, stick to these low-impact, relaxing activities, and you will improve your health and well being undoubtedly.
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