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Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy

Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy

Jan 21, 2020

Now that you’re pregnant, you may be scared to continue exercising. As a pre & postnatal fitness specialist, I have seen firsthand the benefits of exercise during pregnancy. Yet there are many myths and misconceptions that exist, many of which hold women back from having the healthiest pregnancy possible.

There is a lot of fear out there that stops pregnant women from exercising. But did you know that exercising during pregnancy has some amazing benefits?

Benefits of Exercising During Pregnancy:

  • Detoxifying the body
  • Increasing insulin sensitivity
  • Reducing stress
  • Increasing energy level and mental clarity
  • Boosting metabolism
  • Improving cardiovascular function
  • Maintaining appropriate weight gain
  • Control Blood Pressure
  • Reduce Nausea
  • Boost Your Immune System
  • Prevent Leg Cramping
  • Avoid Incontinence
  • Help You Sleep

When it comes to exercise while pregnant, being inactive is the real risk!

Countless studies show that the outcomes for moms and babies are better with prenatal exercise. Research shows that moms who stay fit during pregnancy have shorter labors, less chance of preterm labor, fewer complications and shorter hospital stays.

Studies even show that fit moms typically have healthier babies. 

With the right pregnancy exercises you can have a healthier pregnancy, have an easier delivery and prevent too much weight gain.

You don’t need to be a bodybuilder (after all, you’re doing that already), but by incorporating the right strength training exercises into your pregnancy exercise routine, you can keep yourself feeling fit and looking toned all pregnancy long.

There’s a myth that pregnancy exercises – specifically lifting weights – is dangerous for you and your baby, and that pregnant moms should avoid these types of activities. 

Studies even show that fit moms typically have healthier babies. 

Check out two interesting studies:

  • Research Shows – Exercise during pregnancy might program a baby’s heart to resist cardiovascular problems later in life, because they have stronger blood vessels. (Read this study)
  • Research Shows – The brains of babies born to women who exercised moderately throughout pregnancy appear to mature faster. (Another study)

You can’t deny the research – exercise benefits both mom and baby!

So, now that you have a strong case for WHY you should exercise during your pregnancy (it’s better for you AND your baby) let’s talk about HOW to exercise  safely while pregnant.

First, check with your doctor. Then, make sure you’re keeping these important safety tips in mind…

6 Safety Tips for Pregnancy Exercises:

  1. For safety, choose exercise positions that encourage your spine to support itself in the neutral position during exercise.  
  2. At the start of each exercise, contract your abdominal muscles by squeezing your bellybutton to your spine.  This will help to prevent diastasis recti during pregnancy. 
  3. Maintain the compression of the abdominal wall throughout your repetitions.
  4. Maintain neutral spine: don’t flatten your lower back or arch your spine, or allow the spine to wobble or twist during any exercises.
  5. If needed, don’t be afraid to lower your resistance or weight-lifting levels as pregnancy progresses. Never sacrifice good form just to lift heavier weights.
  6. Take plenty of rests as needed throughout your workout and remember to stay hydrated!

Safe Exercises During Pregnancy

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise per day on most if not all days of the week, unless you have a medical or pregnancy complication. Because the hormones produced during pregnancy cause the ligaments that support your joints to stretch, it’s important to practice proper form to reduce the risk of injury.

For cardiovascular exercise, walking, swimming, and indoor cycling are all great low impact exercises that are safe for pregnancy. Activities such as jogging can be done in moderation if you were doing them before your pregnancy. Just remember that you need to listen to your body and adjust your activities or exercise routine as necessary.

As for strength training, below are some great exercises that can be done at home with a light resistance band or dumbbells. 

1. Row 

Pregnancy Benefit: As your breasts get bigger during pregnancy, your shoulders round forward. Strengthening the muscles between your shoulder blades helps counteract the slump.

 Adding a squat to this movement helps you keep your lower body toned and strong throughout pregnancy.

2. Incline Push Up followed by Tricep Dip 

Pregnancy Benefit: It’s important to create muscle balance in your upper body by working your chest during pregnancy. Adding a tricep dip to this exercise also helps tone and strengthen your tricep (the back of your arm).

3) Bicep Curl  


Pregnancy Benefit: Strong arms! Soon you’ll be carrying around a baby, a diaper bag—and the groceries…so in addition to keeping your arms toned, you’ll be glad you kept them strong with this exercise! 

4) Lunge

Pregnancy Benefit: Your quadriceps and hamstrings bear the weight of your pregnancy as your belly grows, so strengthening your lower body with lunges is a great way to stay fit (and toned) during pregnancy. 

5) Plank
 Hold 

Pregnancy Benefit: Keeping your abs strong will help prevent pregnancy-induced back pain. 

Pregnancy Plank How to:
  • Lower onto all fours so your wrists are directly under your shoulders
  • Lift your knees off the floor (don’t arch your back) so your body forms a straight line
  • Hold for 1 to 2 breaths, working up to 5 breaths


F.A.Q.

Can you do squats while pregnant?

There are many benefits to squats. However,  if you experience ligament pain during pregnancy you may notice that squatting becomes increasingly difficult. In order to avoid injury, here are a few pregnancy modifications to consider as needed:

  • Lower the weight – Squats are an amazing pregnant women as you’re preparing for labor. If weighted squats become too much, consider lowering the weight that you’re using, or forgoing weighted squats all together and incorporating bodyweight squats into your routine, Remember your body is already hauling around a lot of extra weight. 
  • Elevate your feet – Rolling up a towel under your feet is a great modification if you have a hard time keeping your heels flat during a squat.
  • Watch your knees – Whenever you’re squatting, always ensure that your knees never come past your toes. 

 

How can I avoid gaining weight during pregnancy?

The most simple ways to avoid gaining too much weight during pregnancy are to start pregnancy at a healthy weight if possible, to eat a moderate and healthy nutritional diet, and to remain as active as possible throughout pregnancy.

Do you burn more calories while pregnant?

The first trimester does not require your body to burn any extra calories. During the second trimester, an additional 340 calories a day are burned by pregnant women. For the third trimester, 450 calories more are burned per day than when not pregnant.

Can you do ab exercises while pregnant?

It’s no secret that your core muscles go through lots of stretching during pregnancy to accommodate your growing baby. If you want to keep your abs in shape and speed recovery after birth, consider continuing ab exercises like pregnancy modified planks during pregnancy. Provided you follow safe steps, with the guidance of your OBGYN, you can absolutely maintain your fitness and keep your core strong during pregnancy.


About Kate (aka BeyondFit Mom) 

Kate Horney is a Pre & Postnatal Fitness Specialist with a degree in Exercise Science.  Kate has a C.P.T. & B.S. in Exercise Physiology and is a health & fitness professional with over a decade of experience working in the health and fitness industry. She’s a busy mom of two boys who has a passion to give women the tools needed to reach their fitness, health, energy, nutrition, and training goals.  Kate has over 10 years of experience in helping busy moms shed body fat, boost fitness, and learn how to live a healthy lifestyle. 

Connect with Kate on her blog or on social media:

@beyondfitmom

BeyondFit Mom FB

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