The Fantastic Benefits of Moderate Exercise in Pregnancy

Photo Credit: Karl Zobel

Moderate Exercise has many Benefits in Pregnancy

Moderate exercise has many benefits in pregnancy. It boosts your energy, decreases uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms (like backaches), helps you stay within the recommended weight gain for your size, and it reduces the risk of pregnancy complications ““ like gestational diabetes and pregnancy-related hypertension. When you’re in shape, you have an easier, smoother labor and delivery.

Benefits of Moderate Exercise in Pregnancy

With the exception of women who are experiencing pregnancy complications, all expectant mothers should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise three times a week. If you can, try to exercise every day. Safe exercises for pregnant women include walking, swimming, cycling on a stationary bicycle, Pilates, yoga, and low-impact aerobics. Because your center of gravity shifts in pregnancy, it’s important that you don’t do any exercises that put you at high risk for falling. For example, gymnastics, contact sports, horseback riding, skating, weight training, and scuba diving are not recommended for pregnant women.

Some of the major reasons why you’ll want to incorporate moderate exercise into your pregnancy routine include:

Exercise Relieves Your Pregnancy Symptoms

Most women who exercise during pregnancy report that they have less severe symptoms. This is a scientific fact. According to a 1995 study published in the journal, Medicine & Science in Sports & Medicine, women who exercised in the first trimester felt better overall and they experienced fewer pregnancy symptoms than those who did not. Exercise in the first two trimesters also caused these women to have fewer discomforts in the final trimester.

In an earlier study published in the Journal of Nurse-Midwifery, researchers found that pregnant women who exercised had higher levels of self-esteem and experienced lower physical discomfort compared to pregnant women who did not exercise. The women who exercised had less severe backaches, headaches, fatigue, shortness of breath and hot flashes.

Regular Exercise Reduces the Risk of Complications

Numerous studies have found that moderate exercise decreases a pregnant woman’s risk of developing preeclampsia, pregnancy-related hypertension, and gestational diabetes. Women, however, shouldn’t exercise if they already have these complications.

Exercising Boosts Your Mood in Pregnancy

Mood swings and raging emotions are a regular part of pregnancy. It’s normal to feel anxious and even a little down at some point when you’re expecting. If you’re feeling crummy, moderate exercise can boost your mood and reduce these negative emotions. When you exercise in pregnancy, your body will release endorphins ““ the feel-good hormones that gives you a positive, energized outlook on life. Endorphins are the body’s natural analgesics; they diminish your perception of pain.

Moderate Exercise Shortens Your Labor

Doesn’t every pregnant woman want an easier labor? Moderate exercise on a regular basis will help you achieve this.

In a 1990 study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, researchers monitored the pregnancy of women who exercised on a regular basis. They found that women who exercised at the same level as they did before they became pregnant experienced shorter labors, less need for assistance during vaginal deliveries (i.e. no forceps or vacuum extraction). Their newborn babies experienced fewer health problems.

Why Not Exercise in Pregnancy?

With all of these benefits of moderate exercise in pregnancy, there’s no reason for you to not exercise. Before you start an exercise regiment, however, make sure that you discuss your plans with your healthcare provider.

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