Pregnancy and Exercise: The Risks, Tips and Benefits

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Pregnancy and Exercise: The Risks, Tips and Benefits

It’s debated whether exercising during pregnancy is safe for the well being of expectant mothers and their babies – but with trainers and doctors having different opinions, it’s often difficult to understand the pros and cons that come with exercise.

So, what do you really need to know about exercising during pregnancy? Here are the risks, tips and recommended exercises.

What are the risks?

Just as there are risks to strenuous exercise, there are dangers to exercising whilst pregnant – though this primarily applies to women with particular medical conditions. There’s no evidence showing newborns being significantly affected by women choosing to exercise during their pregnancy.

Some of the major concerns include:

  • Lack of oxygen: As exercising causes blood to distribute from the organs to muscle, there is a reduction in oxygen.
  • Increased glucose: Working muscles too much increases the glucose consumption of expectant mothers, which can potentially affect the foetal glucose levels.
  • Premature contractions: These may be induced by hormones stimulated by exercise.

What are the benefits?

Though there are potential risks from exercise, there are also many benefits. Regular exercise during pregnancy can improve posture whilst also decreasing common discomforts including fatigue or backaches. As well as this, endorphins are released which are beneficial to expectant mothers.

Again, many of these benefits (as well as the risks previously mentioned) depend on the type of exercise you’re doing. For example, it’s encouraged to participate in low impact aerobics over high impact.

How do I know if I shouldn’t exercise?

Before participating in regular exercise, it’s recommended you consult with your doctor about any potential health risks. If an expectant mother has a medical condition like heart disease, diabetes and asthma, exercise may not be advised.

Exercise may also be harmful if you’ve experienced pregnancy-related concerns such as bleeding or spotting, previous premature births, weak cervix or threatened miscarriage.

What exercises are safe?

While most exercises are safe during pregnancy, expectant mothers are advised to avoid strenuous movements which may put strain on the body and foetus.

pregnant lady with checkered shirt walking in nature

Some safe exercises include:

  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Elliptical machines
  • Aerobics
  • Indoor stationary cycling
  • Yoga

These exercises are advised as they have little risk of injury and can be continued throughout the entire pregnancy. If you were quite active before pregnancy, more intense exercises including jogging can be done, just in moderation.

It’s always recommended you exercise with caution and don’t push yourself too far. If you’re uncertain whether you can, or how often, you should exercise, consult with your regular doctor for further information.

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