Exercise for pregnant women: Simple routines to keep you fit
Every expectant mother aims to protect, nourish and strengthen her baby. According to experts, exercise for pregnant women is top on the list of things to do to boost your baby’s health. The right movements are beneficial in the following ways:
• Energizes women in pregnancy
• Significantly reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases
• Heals aching joints, back pains
• Boosts blood circulation
• Controls the weight of both mother and child
• Relieves swollen limbs
• Improves the quality of sleep.
“When I teach at antenatal classes, I recommend exercise for pregnant women. I encourage them to stretch, walk, swim and do mild yoga. Moderate exercises give babies a healthy start in life,” says Josephine Nwachukwu, a Midwife at the Parklane Medical Hospital in Enugu.
Important tips to help you make the most of exercise for pregnant women
Before you incorporate any exercises into your daily routine, here are a few tips you must note.
1. A Health practitioner’s approval:
Depending on the state of your health, your physician or midwife might recommend that you skip certain workout routines.
“The right exercises at the wrong time can lead to complications. Remember: you need the advice of an expert,” says Josephine Nwachukwu.
2. Avoid impact sports
Pre-pregnancy, you were probably a professional basketballer, footballer or rugby player. Now you’re an expectant mother with a delicate baby bump to protect. Whatever exercises you chose, make sure you avoid impact sports.
3. Don’t Overdo it
You can get inspiration from the fitness expert moms on YouTube. But most of all, go at your pace. Rest when you’re tired. Pay attention to your body. Moderation should be your watchword.
4. Consistency counts
“You’ll be better off with a 10-minute workout consistently repeated 3- 5 times a week, than with a three-hour exercise once in a month,” says Josephine Nwachukwu.
Your body needs constant exercises. Infrequent workout habits only make you feel fatigued. Choose a short and effective exercise for pregnant women. Be consistent with your exercise routine.
5. Warm Up
Warm up for about two minutes before you leap into any exercise routine. Warm up exercises such as stretches and walks can help protect you from muscle injuries and other complications.
What are the safest exercises for pregnant women?
1) Brisk walking
It’s a safe and simple way to increase your heartbeat and blood circulation. However, starters are advised to start with shorter strolls.
This cardio workout is gentle on the knees and is very convenient.
As your pregnancy advances, pay attention to your coordination and steadiness during walks. If your neighborhood is riddled with potholes and rough objects, find somewhere smooth to do your brisk walks. The last thing you want is to trip and fall. Finally, wear comfortable sports socks and shoes.
Towards your EDD, walking can help to induce labor.
“If you want a less painful and shorter labor room experience, then you should incorporate simple yoga moves into your exercise routine,” says Josephine Nwachukwu.
According to research studies, pregnant women who practised yoga fare better in the labor room. Because yoga involves breathing and relaxation exercises, it helps you prepare for labor.
However, you must choose your moves carefully. Avoid movements that require you to lie on your back, after the 12th week of gestation. Most of all, don’t do hot yoga.
Swimming exercises are fun and easy to do. Hold onto the railings while descending into the pool. It’ll help you maintain your balance and coordination.
“Swimming gives you a sense of buoyancy, weightlessness and liberty. Again, it is one of those excellent full-body workouts that won’t put pressure on your joints,” says Josephine Nwachukwu.
Excellent ideas for this exercise for pregnant women:
• Swimming (breaststrokes are ideal)
• Aqua aerobics or water aerobics
• Walking in water
4) Tailor Stretches
These unique exercises help pregnant women tone their thigh, hip and pelvic floor muscles. If you’re dealing with back pain, tailor stretches can make them go away.
How it works:
• Adopt the Buddha sitting position. This pose involves sitting with the knees bent and the ankles crossed. Tilt forward a bit. Ensure that your back is ramrod straight.
• “Alternatively, you can do a tailored press. This also involves sitting with the knees bent, but unlike the first pose, the tailor press requires that you press the soles of your feet together. That’s not all. Put both hands beneath your bent knees. With your knees, apply pressure on the hands. Do this for 5 seconds,” says Josephine Nwachukwu.
5) Stationary cycling
If you live in a neighborhood where the roads are riddled with potholes and rough objects, cycling on a stationary bike might be a good alternative.
Stationary cycling is a safe way to increase your heart rate and boost blood circulation in your body. As your pregnancy progresses and your center of gravity shifts, a stationary bike will remain a safer exercise option as the bike will support your body.
Moderate exercise for pregnant women is important, but you must choose safer exercises, approved by your healthcare provider. One of the best exercises is swimming. It's gentle on the joints and relieves swollen ankles. And you'll feel light as a beach ball no matter how big your baby bump. Check with your health care provider before starting or continuing exercise in pregnancy.
Resource: US National Library of Medicine