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At no point in a woman’s life is general fitness more crucial than during pregnancy and childbirth. An informed and realistic fitness program can benefit a pregnant woman in many ways:
According to Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (UK), it is not only safe but also beneficial to continue physical activity during pregnancy. By paying attention to some simple guidelines coupled with good medical care, a woman can enjoy her pregnancy exercise program and anticipate similar levels of fitness after childbirth.
Becoming active and exercising at least 30 minutes on most, if not all days of the week can benefit your health during pregnancy in the following ways:
After the first trimester of pregnancy, avoid doing exercises lying flat on your back
If it has been some time since you exercised, start slowly. Begin with as little as five minutes per day and add 5 minutes each week, until you can stay active for 30 minutes a day. You may find it useful to consult a physiotherapist who is experienced at helping women exercise in pregnancy, for their advice on getting you started.
Q: What are the physical benefits of exercising during pregnancy?
A: The common complaints of pregnancy such as fatigue, lower extremity swelling and circulatory problems are reduced in women who exercise. Remaining fit and active during pregnancy will help a woman to maintain her cardiovascular fitness and strength, which will benefit her during labour. In addition, initiation of pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy and in the immediate postpartum period may reduce the risk of future urinary incontinence.
Exercise can prevent excessive maternal weight gain, can improve blood sugar control in women with gestational diabetes and may even play a role for primary prevention of developing gestational diabetes.
Q: What are the emotional/ mental benefits of exercising during pregnancy?
A: We shouldn’t underestimate the psychological benefits of getting active, and taking control of your health and your pregnancy. Psychologically, active women experience less insomnia, stress anxiety and depression.
Q: How can I get back into exercising after the baby is born?
A: Benefits of postpartum exercise include:
Most women can start exercise as soon as they feel able to. However, for more complicated births or caesarean section deliveries, there are some restrictions. It is best to discuss these restrictions with your doctor and physiotherapist
Walking is a good way to get back into exercising. Brisk walks several times a week will prepare you for more strenuous exercise when you feel up to it. Walking has the added advantage of getting both you and the baby out of the house for exercise. As you feel stronger, consider more vigorous exercise.
Interested in reading more pregnancy and maternity tips?
You will find a collection of articles here on pregnancy diet and nutrition, exercise & fitness during and post pregnancy, emotional wellness and more. Check out a few from the list below:
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