In general, exercise during pregnancy does wonders. It boosts mood, improves sleep, and reduces aches and pains. It also prepares you for childbirth by strengthening muscles and building endurance, and makes it much easier to get back into shape after your baby is born.
Which exercises are best in pregnancy?
The ideal exercise in pregnancy will get your heart pumping and keep you supple, without causing physical stress. Many activities, such as running and weight training, are fine in the beginning, but you may need to modify your workout as you grow bigger. You’ll really feel the benefit if you do a combination of: aerobic exercise, which works your heart and lungs and muscle-strengthening exercise, which improves your strength, flexibility and posture.
To get the full benefits, you’ll need to exercise at least three times a week, ideally more. Try to find something that you enjoy, as you’ll be more likely to stick to it in the longer term. Build activity into your daily life, too. For example, taking the stairs instead of the lift, and doing housework or gardening, counts as exercise. Avoid doing sports where there’s a risk of hitting your bump, or of slipping and falling, such as squash, gymnastics, rollerblading, horse riding and skiing. The following types of exercise are safe in pregnancy, though some may not be suitable for the last few months, and you may need to lessen the activity as your pregnancy progresses. Talk to your doctor, midwife or a physiotherapist before starting any exercise that’s new to you.
You will probably want to avoid these types of exercises during pregnancy:
- Activities where falling is more likely
- Exercise that may cause any abdominal trauma, including activities with jarring motions, contact sports or rapid changes in direction
- Activities that require extensive jumping, hopping, skipping, or bouncing
- Bouncing while stretching
- Waist twisting movements while standing
- Intense bursts of exercise followed by long periods of no activity
- Exercise in hot, humid weather
- Do not hold your breath for an extended period of time
- Do not exercise to the point of exhaustion