Benefits of exercise during pregnancy

Most expectant mothers have heard time and again they should exercise. Between morning sickness in the first trimester and increasing fatigue and awkwardness in the last part of pregnancy, exercising's not easy.

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  • Most expectant mothers have heard time and again they should exercise. Between morning sickness in the first trimester and increasing fatigue and awkwardness in the last part of pregnancy, exercising's not easy. Here are some reasons why exercise is so good for you at this time—perhaps knowing why will help motivate you.

  • Increased energy levels

  • Growing a baby is hard work! Expectant mothers often feel tired, even at the beginning when the fetus is still quite small. It might seem backwards, but expending a little energy for exercise actually will increase your overall energy level. And who couldn't use that? Be wise, though. This isn't the time to break new fitness records and push yourself too hard.

  • Sleep better

  • Sleep is an elusive thing for many pregnant women. They have a harder time falling asleep, and their night's rest is interrupted with frequent trips to the bathroom. Exercise can help with this. Many moms say they sleep more deeply and wake up feeling more rested if they have exercised. Plan your sessions before early evening to avoid feeling too wakeful at bedtime.

  • Good for baby, too

  • Studies show babies of moms who exercise during pregnancy are born at healthier weights and have a reduced risk of diabetes. There is some thought that these babies also do better with the stress of birth.

  • Less of the typical aches and pains

  • Many mothers who exercise avoid some of the muscle tension and pain that is so often a part of pregnancy. Stretches and back exercises can do a lot to relieve these symptoms and give your body the strength it needs for the big job of carrying a baby.

  • Natural endorphins

  • Exercise causes your brain to release endorphins, elevating your mood, making you feel more energetic and reducing feelings of anxiety or gloominess.

  • Reduce your risk of gestational diabetes

  • The American Diabetes Association recommends exercise for women who are at risk, and it only makes sense it's a good preventative measure for even those who aren't at risk.

  • Feel better about yourself

  • Doing active things to make yourself more healthy will promote a better attitude, too. Self-image is a tough thing for some women during pregnancy, and you'll feel better about yourself knowing that you are doing what you can to be healthier.

  • Speed your recovery

  • When you remain fit during pregnancy, your body will bounce back faster. Better muscle tone will put you that much farther ahead in helping your body return to its pre-pregnant state. You'll need it—being a new mom is demanding, and having a fit body will be to your benefit.

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  • When Not to Exercise

  • There are some situations in which an expectant mother should avoid exercise. Your doctor will let you know, but a couple of the common conditions requiring this are pre-eclampsia and pre-term labor. In some instances, you may be required to be on bed rest.

  • Some mothers feel light headed during pregnancy. This is often caused due to changes in your blood pressure and volume. The blood vessels become more relaxed, reducing blood pressure and although normal, can cause dizziness. In some cases this can make exercise unsafe, or should be done with caution. If you notice dizziness, take it nice and slow when changing positions, and be sure you are getting plenty of water.

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Margot Hovley is the author of the novels "Sudden Darkness" and "Glimmering Light." Her self-reliance blog is at mynewoldschool.com, and she blogs about her writing adventures at margothovley.com.

Website: http://www.margothovley.com

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