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Great Non-Strenuous Exercises During Pregnancy

Posted on 10/04/2012 in Pregnancy & Baby & Well-Being

Today, non-strenuous, regular exercise is considered healthy, safe and beneficial for most pregnant women. Not only can exercise of this nature help to alleviate some of pregnancy’s most uncomfortable symptoms and assist a woman to prepare for childbirth by strengthening muscles and increasing endurance, it can also help an expectant mother to feel good – and at no time is this more important than during pregnancy.

How much exercise should a pregnant woman do?

The guidance and advice of a qualified health professional should always be sought before a woman undertakes any exercise regime during pregnancy. However, for women that are healthy and have a low-risk pregnancy, 30 minutes of non-strenuous exercise per day is generally recommended.

It is important to note that the type and intensity of the exercise that is undertaken should depend on the woman’s health and level of fitness before falling pregnant.

The good news is that, for most women, the incorporation of exercise into the life of the pregnant woman is as appropriate and useful as the consumption of a healthy diet, selection of maternity clothes and other preparations for the baby’s arrival.

What are some of the recommended types of exercise?

The best types of exercise for pregnant women get the heart pumping, help to keep joints supple, control weight gain and are significant in helping muscles prepare for the demands of labour and childbirth.
  • Activities such as running and weight training are often fine for some women who have engaged in these activities pre-pregnancy but should be modified as the belly grows larger.
  • Activities that put the woman at risk of slips and falls – such as: cycling, skiing and horseriding – are best avoided.

Forms of exercise that are generally considered safe for expectant mothers up until the last few months of pregnancy and with the approval of her doctor or midwife, include:

Walking:  Walking is one of the best forms of cardiovascular exercise as it helps to keep the woman fit, without causing jarring of the knees and ankles. Walking is safe throughout pregnancy and has the advantage of easily being included in a woman’s daily routine.

Swimming:  Swimming is widely regarded as the safest and best form of exercise for pregnant women. Because it uses both large and small muscle groups, it provides a range of cardiovascular benefits and helps women to experience a sense of weightlessness even when extra weight is gained during pregnancy.

Aquanatal classes:   Aquanatal classes are enjoyable for many women during pregnancy. These classes have the benefit of being gentle on joints and can reduce a symptom widely experienced in late pregnancy – swelling in the legs.

Yoga:  Yoga is a preferred activity of many pregnant women because it can not only promote relaxation and an increased sense of wellbeing, it can help to maintain muscle tone and flexibility, while limiting the impact on joints. Because of the effects of relaxin – a hormone that increases suppleness – pregnant women should be mindful not to overstretch.

Pilates:  Because pilates incorporates flexibility and strength training with awareness of the body, breathing rhythms and relaxation, it can be very beneficial for a pregnant woman. The deep stabilising muscles that are engaged during pilates target the tummy and pelvic floor – two areas that can be weakened in the course of pregnancy.

Dance:   One of the best things about dance as a suitable form of non-strenuous exercise for pregnant women is that it can be done absolutely everywhere. While dancing to your favourite music can of course be fun, moves that require you to jump, spin or leap should not be undertaken and sudden changes of direction should also be avoided.

Exercise can produce many positive impacts for pregnant women. It prepares a woman’s body for childbirth but can also increase the speed at which the woman’s body gets back in shape once the baby is delivered and there is no need for maternity dresses and other maternity wear.

Pregnant women should carefully choose the activities in which they engage and always seek the advice and approval of a health care professional. The good news is that, for most women, a number of exercises that will not harm the woman or her baby can safely be undertaken.


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