By Kinza Asghar Khan, PharmD

Up-Dated at 06-Feb-2024

Pregnancy and exercise? Is that even okay? Well, let me assure you, it’s not only okay but also highly beneficial for both you and your little one! Embracing regular exercise during pregnancy can have remarkable positive effects.

While it may be difficult to keep motivated and active with an expanding belly, the advantages of pregnant exercise are well worth the effort. 

It is not only safe, but research has shown that it can have a variety of good impacts on both the pregnant mother and the developing baby. 

In this article, we will look at the incredible benefits of prenatal exercise and offer you the inspiration and information you need to keep active throughout your pregnancy.

So, let’s get started and see how regular exercise benefits you and your tiny bundle of joy.

Benefits for pregnant women

During pregnancy, staying active and incorporating regular exercise into your routine can bring about a wide range of benefits that contribute to a healthier and more enjoyable journey.

Let’s discuss some potential benefits of prenatal exercises.

Reduce extra weight gain

One of the amazing advantages of prenatal exercises designed exclusively for you is their potential to reduce weight gain. We’ve all heard that pregnancy can cause weight gain, but staying active can help you manage your weight in a healthy way. 

Regular prenatal exercise can help you avoid excessive weight gain, which not only makes you feel more comfortable but also lowers your risk of issues.

Prevent gestational diabetes

Another fantastic benefit of prenatal exercises for you is their ability to prevent gestational diabetes.

Gestational diabetes is characterized by high blood sugar levels during pregnancy and can pose risks for both you and your baby. 

However, prenatal exercises improve insulin sensitivity and help your body utilize glucose more efficiently. This overall reduces the risk of high blood sugar levels.

Prevent gestational diabetes

Another fantastic benefit of prenatal exercises for you is their ability to prevent gestational diabetes.

Gestational diabetes is characterized by high blood sugar levels during pregnancy and can pose risks for both you and your baby. 

However, prenatal exercises improve insulin sensitivity and help your body utilize glucose more efficiently. This overall reduces the risk of high blood sugar levels.

Ease out common pregnancy discomforts

Pregnancy might be uncomfortable, but prenatal activities can help alleviate typical aches and pains.

Exercises created expressly for pregnant women, such as moderate stretching and low-impact movements, can be quite beneficial in relieving constipation, back pain, and swelling of the legs, ankles, and feet.

Improve sleep and mood

Regular physical activity provides improved sleep quality and duration. Endorphins, the feel-good hormones, can improve your spirits and minimize symptoms of tension, anxiety, and sadness, are released during exercise.

Exercise also promotes your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, which makes it easier to fall and remain asleep. Just keep in mind that intensive workouts close to bedtime may have the opposite effect and make it more difficult to wind down.

Preps your body for labor

Similar to prepping your body for a marathon, childbirth preparation can significantly impact how you feel throughout the process. When your body is in good shape, it can withstand the extreme exertion required during labor.

Regular exercise can also help you enhance your body’s flexibility, which can be useful during labor. Stretching exercises and mild yoga poses can help you extend your range of motion and release tight muscles during labor.

Speeds up postpartum recovery

One of the lesser-known but significant benefits of prenatal exercises for you is their positive impact on postpartum recovery.

Staying active during pregnancy promotes better circulation, which aids in the healing process and reduces postpartum swelling. The increased blood flow to your muscles and tissues promotes tissue repair and regeneration.

Benefits of prenatal exercise for the baby

When it comes to your baby’s well-being, prenatal exercise works wonders again. Let’s dive into the incredible benefits it brings to your baby

Positive effects on fetal development

Regular prenatal exercises have a positive impact on the overall development of your baby. 

By increasing blood flow and oxygen supply, exercise creates an environment that supports optimal growth and development. Research even suggests that babies of active moms may have improved cognitive and motor skills.

Improved placental function

The placenta plays a vital role in nourishing your baby throughout pregnancy. Prenatal exercise boosts blood circulation, leading to better functioning of the placenta.

With improved blood flow, the placenta can efficiently deliver essential nutrients and oxygen to support your baby’s growth.

Healthy birth weight

Prenatal exercise promotes a healthy birth weight, ensuring that your baby develops optimally and gets off to a good start in life.

Regular prenatal exercise helps to manage the baby’s growth, lowering the risk of excessive weight gain or low birth weight.

According to studies, pregnant women who exercise during their pregnancy are more likely to produce healthy-weight babies, laying the foundation for their general well-being.

Enhancing neurological development

Your baby’s brain and neurological system benefit from your prenatal exercise routine. 

Studies indicate that exercising during pregnancy can enhance the development of the nervous system. 

This potentially leads to improved cognitive function and a lower risk of developmental delays.

Here are some safe and beneficial activities recommended for pregnant women

  1. Swimming: Swimming is a low-impact exercise that provides a full-body workout while being gentle on the joints. It helps improve cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, and flexibility.

  2. Brisk Walking: Walking is a safe and accessible exercise for pregnant women. It improves overall endurance. Make sure to wear supportive shoes and choose flat, even surfaces for walking.

  3. Indoor Stationary Cycling: Cycling on a stationary bike is a low-impact exercise that helps improve cardiovascular fitness and leg strength.

  4. Low-Impact Aerobics: Participating in low-impact aerobics classes taught by a certified instructor is a great way to stay active during pregnancy.

Always remember to prioritize safety, listen to your body’s signals, and avoid activities that cause discomfort or pain. The key is to choose exercises that benefit your entire body while minimizing the risk of injury.

By consulting with your healthcare provider and following these guidelines, you can make informed decisions and ensure a safe and healthy prenatal exercise routine for you and your baby.

Conclusion

Pregnancy is a beautiful journey, and you have the power to make it even more beautiful by incorporating prenatal exercise. By engaging in regular prenatal exercises, you can not only enhance your comfort and well-being but also provide numerous benefits to your baby.

So keep up the good work, mama, and let you and your baby benefit from your active and healthy lifestyle!

At NowBegins, we believe in the power of a healthy mama for a healthy baby. Head over to our website to discover more valuable resources to support you on this journey. Your path to a happier and healthier pregnancy starts now!

References

  • Clapp, J. F., III. (1998). Exercising Through Your Pregnancy. Champaign, Ill. Human Kinetics.
  • Clapp, J. F. (2002). Exercising Through Your Pregnancy. Omaha, NE. Addicus Books.
  • Cram, C., & Hyatt, G. (2003). Prenatal and Postpartum Exercise Design. Tucson: Human Kinetics.
  • Dempsey, J. C., et al. (2004). A case-control study of maternal recreational physical activity and risk of gestational diabetes mellitus. Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, 66, 203-215.
  • Reynolds, G. (2013). “Mother’s Exercise May Boost Baby’s Brain.” The New York Times, Nov 20.
  • Reynolds, G. (2015). “Mother’s Exercise May Lower Heart Risks in Newborns.” The New York Times, April 8.

  • Wolfe, L. A., Brenner, I., & Mottola, M. (1994). Maternal exercise, fetal well-being, and pregnancy outcome in Exercise and Sports Science Reviews. American College of Sports Medicine, 22, 145-194.

 

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