Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy

by Lottie Keble-Wyatt

Shouldn't you be taking it easy, think of the baby?

Woah careful you'll bring on labour!

Are you sure that's safe?

Just some of the helpful advice you may receive when pregnant and working out. Now, obviously, if you have any contraindications that mean you shouldn't exercise this is understandable. However, if after seeking medical advice you have been given the all-clear, or have a straightforward, complication-free pregnancy there really isn't any reason not to get a sweat on... unless you don't want to of course, and that is soooo totally cool too!

Still, whilst well-meaning, these misguided criticisms on working out during pregnancy can cause a lot more damage than you think to a mother’s mental health. It could be the one thing that keeps a woman feeling like herself, that semblance of normality, the preservation of a familiar routine, albeit a modified one.

So why is there still all this stigma? Frankly, it’s archaic, so let’s debunk, let’s demystify, let’s begin the fitness/pregnancy denouement.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists actually recommend all healthy pregnant mums-to-be should aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise around five times a week. That's more than a trolley pushing stride around your local supermarket, it's a dedicated park loop with a mate, it's a deliberate choice to get physical.

With so many changes going on in the body, just keeping moving and maintaining fitness levels, can help keep up your stamina, and let’s face it when it comes to evacuation day, labour is a pretty darn physical process. You are effectively in 9 months of training camp, prepping for the biggest event of your life, so give your body a head-start, get it as strong as you can whilst you can!

Exercising is also a great way to fight fatigue, as it gives you an endorphin hit and energy buzz, as well as strengthening your cardiovascular system. It can turn hump days into hurrah days. It can give you that little kick you need to get other things done, such as all those pesky little tasks and chores that need to be squared away before a newborn eats up all your free time.

Struggling with varicose veins? Whilst legs may feel heavy and achy, movement will actually get the blood flowing again and help ease the dreaded symptoms.

How about anxiety? Getting active can take the focus off racing thoughts and channel your thoughts and feelings into more rational avenues. Adding meditation to your daily routine can be a great addition to your tool kit here, just that moment to mentally check-in and create a sense of space between you and any concerns.

Suffering from lower back pain? It's not all 'give me 20 starjumps'. Oh no, instead consider more relaxing but core-specific regimes such as Pilates to give your body that extra support. It's all about injury prevention and correcting muscle weaknesses, and imbalances before they become a serious problem. Remember, the extra weight of your bump places your spine under far more pressure, so the knowledge on how to protect it can be incredibly invaluable.

Don't forget Yoga too, I mean it’s been around for centuries upon centuries so there has to be something in it right? A really good old stretch-through can be fabulous to loosen muscles that may be adding to the soreness and tightness around your body.

Do remember though, in pregnancy, it’s really crucial to add extra time to warm up and cool down, as there's not just one of you your system has to provide all that energy for now.

In essence, fitness should be considered a weapon against the nasty bits of pregnancy, it’s not essential, it’s a personal choice. But, that's the crux of the matter, it’s YOUR choice, and nobody, yes, nobody should make you question it.

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