Why exercise during pregnancy? *
Benefits for Mom:
- Reduced risk of low back pain.
- Reduced risk of gestational diabetes.
- Lower incidence of depression.
- Less pregnancy weight gain.
- Less pregnancy tiredness.
- Reduced incidence of incontinence and pregnancy constipation.
- Healthier heart.
- Normal birth weight.
- Quicker to develop neurologically.
It is important to recognize that your body is going through great changes, and this will require changes in your routine and intensity. Some things to consider when exercising during pregnancy are your changing weight, a shift in your center of gravity due to your growing belly, and hormonal changes such as an increase in the hormone relaxin.
Relaxin is a hormone produced by the ovaries and placenta, during pregnancy to assist in preparation for childbirth, by relaxing ligaments in the pelvis and softens/widens the cervix. However, this hormone is not just site-specific, meaning its effects can extend beyond the pelvis. As such, regular exercise can help muscles stay active and strong to help provide joint protection to the entire body!
Generally safe activities and exercises include those with a low risk of falling, and those that can be done at a comfortable moderate intensity.
Here are some safe and recommended exercises during pregnancy:
- Brisk Walking
- Stationary cycling
- Step or elliptical machines
- Low impact aerobics
- Light weight training
Activities including scuba diving, water sports, yoga poses such as lying on your back or lying on your stomach after the first trimester need to be put on hold until after your pregnancy.
Remember, these are general guidelines, and your pre-pregnancy activity level and health care provider’s advice will dictate how much is safe for you! We are all different!
What about after delivery?
Speak with your health care provider, or seek advice and consultation from a physiotherapist, as details from your pregnancy and delivery, will often dictate when and how it is safe to resume previous activity levels and sports/hobbies.
What about next time?
If you plan on have subsequent pregnancies, starting an exercise program in advance will increase your physical activity level and support throughout your pregnancy, as often times multiple childbirths are known to lead to increased risk of issues (earlier onset back or joint pain, ‘showing’ earlier, etc.).
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