The ‘Good Health is wealth’ is an adage that does not change even for a pregnant woman and the best way to maintain overall health is to exercise regularly.
In fact a moderate and regular exercise regimen during pregnancy can improve the tone and strength of muscles, boost energy levels and even help to keep those varicose veins at bay.
A word of caution though—be careful about the kind of exercise that you do. Safety first should be your watchword. Check out with the obstetrician whether you can exercise and after 20 weeks any exercise that requires you to be in a supine position is taboo.
In the initial stages of pregnancy, it is easier to exercise but as it advances, remember that your body weight and balance is altered. So you need to modify your exercise program accordingly. Walking, swimming or riding a stationary bike have always been good options, but be careful to gradually he time you spend exercising.
When you exercise, the supply of blood and oxygen to the muscles is increased. This means that the flow to other parts is considerably reduced. Hence any workout should neither be strenuous nor should it cause you to feel exhausted. Exercise is supposed to benefit you and the baby. That, remember is the bottom line. A warm up before exercise and a cool down after is important.
If you are one of those fitness freaks who have always exercised even before pregnancy, you can maintain the same routine with slight modifications. In fact there is no hard and fast rule. Exercise so long as you feel comfortable.
Avoid any exercise that poses a risk. Horseback riding, skiing, scuba diving, playing jerky and vigorous games like tennis and hockey are better avoided. Light Swimming is seen to be beneficial. It is an absolutely safe exercise that does not cause any stress to your joints. Brisk Walking is preferred to running or jogging.
Wear sensible shoes and avoid dehydration. Stretching exercises are relaxing and they tone the body. Stretch very gently and slowly. In pregnant women, the hormone relaxing causes the muscles and ligaments to be more supple and elastic than usual and it is very easy to pull a muscle.
Stretching in the water is a good idea because the water buoys you up. Kegal exercises, which strengthen pelvic muscles, augur easier births. Yoga in its non-rigorous form is extremely safe and beneficial because it eases the stress and strain on the back. So 5 minutes of slow walking or cycling followed by 15 minutes of moderate exercise and 5-10 minutes of slow activity accompanied by gentle stretching should keep you in good shape.
If you can talk easily without being out of breath while you exercise, you are probably on the right track. Check your pulse rate during the workout. Multiplying that by 6 gives you the heart rate. Ensure that at no time this goes over 140 beats\minute. Wear loose fitting comfortable clothes and sensible shoes while exercising.
At high altitudes, refrain from exercising. Avoid overheating or exhaustion; drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise, and above all listen to your muscles. Stop immediately if you feel tired, dizzy, out of breath or have any abdominal pain. If you have a history of heart disease, high blood pressure or have encountered problems during earlier pregnancies, do not exercise without consulting the obstetrician. Weight training is generally not advisable. You could sprain a muscle or harm a joint.
In short exercise is good both for the mother and her baby. The benefit of exercise is transferred to the child also. It has been found that babies, which are born to women who have maintained a regimen of exercise during pregnancy, have better neurodevelopment and are stronger and healthier. So keep exercising during pregnancy and enjoy the benefits that accrue.