Pregnancy is a period when your body undergoes a great deal of physical and emotional Changes. It is a well-researched fact that maintaining a regular exercise routine during pregnancy can help stay physically and mentally healthy and have a safe pregnancy and childbirth. However, a large majority of pregnant women or around three quarters with a healthy pregnancy lead a sedentary life style or don’t do enough exercise.
National Health Portal of India ( NHP) , American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ACOG ) and many such expert agencies recommend at least 150 mins of moderate intensity exercise ,3-5 days a week during pregnancy. The benefits of exercising during pregnancy are myriad, including better possibility of normal delivery, shorter labour, maintaining healthy weight, manage common pregnancy discomforts, easier to get back to pre-pregnancy levels, relaxed and stress-free mind etc.
“What is the best exercise to do during pregnancy” is a common question asked!!
It is important to remember that at this point of time what you need is a fitness routine that gives a 360-degree benefit. Ideally, the fitness routine should-
• Be safe for you and your baby
• Get your heart pumping
• Improve and maintain flexibility
• Manage weight gain
• Prepare you body and muscles for labour and childbirth
• Be kind on your joints and not too strenuous.
• Equally work on your physical and mental wellness.
A good combination of exercises during pregnancy include:
1. Walking– It is a great exercise to work on your heart and lungs and keep you physically fit and active. It is also safe to do throughout your pregnancy.
2. Swimming– It is a safe activity during pregnancy and the water helps to support the extra weight. Swimming has many benefits which includes improving circulation, heart and lung function, muscle tone and strength etc.
3. Yoga– It is a mind and body workout. Yoga helps, tone the muscles, and improve balance and circulation during pregnancy – all with very little impact on the joints. Yoga routines when coordinated with breathing helps in relaxation which is vital during pregnancy, labour and birth.
4. Pilates– It helps stretch and strengthen the core and lower limbs. Having a strong core leads to lesser back pain and postural problems. Also, pelvic strength is very critical during labour and birth. A strong core and pelvis is better equipped to handle labour pains.
5. Strength training – It helps to increase muscle strength in the body and build stamina, which is needed during labour and delivery. It can also help keep the weight gain within a healthy range for the body.
6. Barre : It focusses on strengthening the core, hips and legs—exactly what is needed to stay stable and strong, during pregnancy and use later on when it’s time to push. Building a strong physical foundation will also help in bouncing back much quicker during postpartum period.
7. Kegel: It is one of the most important exercise during pregnancy. According to National Health Portal of India ( NHP) and American Pregnancy Association ( APA):
• Pregnant women who perform Kegel during pregnancy often find they have an easier birth
• Better ability to control muscles during labour and delivery
• Toning the muscles thus helping with decreased bladder control and haemorrhoids
• After pregnancy, helps in perineal healing.
It is ideal to mix and match the various fitness routines for a 360-degree workout during pregnancy. Walking is an activity that can be done every day. Choose one routine a day and enjoy the benefits that each fitness routine can give. Having different routines will also help avoid getting bored with monotony and keep you motivated. Always remember that your body is the best judge of how much you can do and take adequate rest if required.
During pregnancy, the key is to build strength and confidence in yourself. Exercising also releases endorphins, a hormone that keeps you happy and helps deal with stress. So, take few minutes off every day to focus on building a stronger and happier you!
REMEMBER -HEALTHY MOTHER, HEALTHY BABY.
Article by Ganga Raj, an internationally accredited fitness consultant with more than 15 + years experience in general fitness and pre and post natal fitness.