Top 10 reasons to workout during pregnancy
When it comes to exercise, we all know that is it is good for us, or at least something we should probably be doing on a regular basis. Today I was thinking about how best to explain the benefits of exercise during pregnancy for both mom and precious baby. Of course every pregnancy is different and some higher risk pregnancies may not allow you to exercise, therefore it’s always important to obtain clearance from your MD first before beginning any exercise program.
The picture above is me at about 39 weeks pregnant. I exercised about 5-6 days a week throughout my entire pregnancy. I even worked out the morning I went into labor! By that time I was 5 days late and trying anything I could to naturally get the process started. I tried to eat very healthy during my pregnancy, but I will not lie, I definitely gave into my cravings. The baby just wanted cupcakes and ice cream sometimes! I gained 29 pounds by the time I delivered by baby girl. My doctor informed me that the desired range is 25-35 lbs. I tried not to obsess over how much weight I was gaining, even though it is scary when you start seeing the scale go up and up. The important thing is that I felt good and my baby was healthy.
Even on the days when I had worked 10 hours and exercise was the last thing I felt like doing, I never regretted it afterwards. In fact, I always felt so much better, except for my feet during my third trimester! I would always have to ice and elevate my poor poor swollen feet, but I digress. I think sometimes there is a stigma that pregnant women maybe shouldn’t be at the gym. I can’t tell you how many strange looks I use to get lifting weights once I was clearly visibly expecting. This could not be further from the truth, especially if you were an avid exerciser and had an established routine before becoming pregnant. However, even if you are a newbie, easing into a gentle exercise program is highly recommended during pregnancy. After performing extensive research during my pregnancy, I found many reliable studies which showed the significant benefits of exercise during pregnancy for both mom and her growing baby. These benefits are largely recognized throughout the medical community. Trust me, It was not always easy for me exercise on a regular basis throughout my pregnancy; in fact some days all I wanted to do was lay in bed. Looking back, I’m so happy I stayed in shape during my pregnancy because I truly believe it helped me heal that much faster postpartum. So if you’re just not feeling it, or unsure of whether you should workout, hopefully this list can serve as some motivation for you!
Here is a list of reasons why exercise is so good for you during pregnancy!
- It lowers your risk of preeclampsia and gestational diabetes
- It prevents excessive weight gain
- It helps you lose weight faster post partum. I’m still working on getting my abdominal muscles back but I lost the baby weight in about 3-4 weeks. I know I can also thank healthy eating and breastfeeding for this as well! The picture below is me around 2 weeks post partum.
- It makes for an easier labor and delivery. I know this is true for many people, however to be honest, I’m still a little up in the air on this one. Just kidding, it did help, but I will tell you there was nothing easy about it. I labored naturally for most of it and this was NOT MY PLAN! However, I have now realized that I am so much stronger than I ever thought I was. I truly believe that having a fit pregnancy did help to give me the strength and endurance I needed after all!
- Makes for improved post partum recovery. Exercise improves pelvic muscle tone which in turn can result in less tearing/fewer episiotomies
- Improved oxygen and blood flow to your baby
- Helps to ease pregnancy related aches and pains. My lower back started to bother me during my third trimester. Staying strong during my pregnancy and practicing yoga daily really helped to decrease my pain and just made me feel so much better.
- Helps to reduce stress and pregnancy related anxiety. This was my first pregnancy and I was so excited to be pregnant which in turn also made me worry about every little thing. Was my baby moving enough? Was I doing all the right things? Am I going to be a good mom? Exercising helped to keep my stress under control.
- Helps to maintain your muscle strength and improve posture. Pregnancy shifts your body’s normal alignment. All of a sudden you have this increased load on your abdominals and lower back which can become quite uncomfortable. Exercising can help to keep your supporting muscles strong, which improves your posture and overall stress on your body.
- Boosts your immune system, which will continue to benefit your baby after birth through breastfeeding if you choose to do so!
Bonus tip: Better sleep. Oh sleep. My old friend how I miss you so much. Before giving birth, I had never had any trouble sleeping in my life. I know some women have difficulty sleeping or falling asleep during pregnancy. Maybe I was just so tired at the end of the day, but when my head hit the pillow I was out. I do think exercise helped with this, because on the days that I did not work out I had a more difficult time falling asleep. Now postpartum is a different story; we are getting there, but I hope to become friends with sleep again someday.
These are my top reasons on why it can be so beneficial to exercise throughout your pregnancy. Of course, this is assuming mom and baby are in good health and no complications are present. Again, always consult with your doctor first before beginning any exercise program.
Want more tips? Check out my post on how to get your best body after baby here!
Follow me on social media for my latest workouts, fitness advice, recipes and more!
Dr. Allie Flowers, PT, DPT, RYT
Join my newsletter!
Sign up to receive the latest free workouts, fitness advice, recipes, motivation and more!