For keen exercisers, the thought of toning down the training while pregnant is often not ideal. After all, exercising during pregnancy boosts the mother’s mood and physical health. But is there such a thing as too much exercise while pregnant?
Doctors are clear that there are many benefits to exercising while pregnant. Physical activity while trying to become pregnant, during the three trimesters, and as soon as possible after birth, is ideal for mothers if they are physically able.
Exercise during pregnancy is beneficial
Historically, doctors often advised pregnant women to cease training and to rest a lot. However, modern medicine shows that for low-risk pregnancies and for the majority of mothers-to-be, exercise should be continued. Too much bed rest could actually be more harmful than anything else, as it can increase the risk of blood clots. It also decreases aerobic fitness and muscle mass, which makes the early days of motherhood even more demanding.
Multiple studies show that exercising and training during pregnancy is beneficial. It is linked with lower chances of gestational diabetes, problems with hypertension in pregnancy. Remaining as physically fit as possible can also help recovery from a Caesarean or complicated birth, and it can keep the mother’s weight down.
Exercises that experts say are safe during pregnancy include:
- Walking at all paces.
- Swimming at all paces.
- Stationary cycling.
- Training using the elliptical equipment at the gym.
- Low-impact aerobics.
- Jogging or running.
- Tennis or squash.
- Strength training.
However, the following exercises should be avoided by expectant mothers, according to doctors:
- Contact sports, such as basketball, football and boxing.
- Any activity with a risk of falling, such as water-skiing, roller blading, gymnastics and riding.
- Scuba diving.
- Hot yoga.
Always check with your doctor
Even the most seasoned exercisers should check with their doctor before continuing with their training plan or starting a new one. There are certain conditions that pregnant women may not know they have that can cause complications.
These dangerous conditions include forms of lung disease and heart disease, an incompetent cervix or cerclage, various issues that could mean premature labour, any bleeding during the first two trimesters, preeclampsia or hypertension brought on by the pregnancy.
For pregnant women who are not suffering any complications, it’s a safe bet to exercise throughout the entire pregnancy for half an hour around five times a week. They should maintain moderate intensity throughout, and not push harder than that.
New sports and exercise plans should be left until after birth, but for pregnant women who are already skilled and knowledgeable about their training or sport, it might be safe to continue during pregnancy with their doctor’s permission.
Listen to your body
If a pregnant woman experiences any kind of unusual symptoms or warning signs, such as pain, shortness of breath while resting, headaches, chest pains, dizziness, calf pain or muscle weakness, then they should stop exercising immediately and talk to their doctor.
Not only does exercising and training through pregnancy offer the obvious physical benefits, it’s also exceptionally positive for the mental health of the mother to be. Pregnancy can be a stressful time, and by maintaining regular exercise, a mother can help her mindset remain calm and healthy. The goal is to continue health and fitness goals while pregnant, within safe parameters, and return to normal training as soon as possible after giving birth.
About Surya Gabriel Iacono
Surya G. Iacono is a fitness and wellness expert and blogger based in London, UK. Surya Iacono’s fitness blogs are aimed at keen gym-goers and exercise fans already well into their journey and looking for tips, tricks and ideas to take it to the next level.