There are many preconceived notions that moderate and strenuous exercise can be harmful to expecting mothers and their unborn children; however, this is simply not the case. Exercise helps keep your body fit and healthy, making your pregnancy and contingent labor easier on your body. Exercise keeps your muscles and joints in shape, which will help alleviate a great deal of discomforts caused by pregnancy. Also, maintaining some level of activity during pregnancy will make it much easier for you to shed those few extra pounds after giving birth. And let’s not forget the wisdom of Elle Woods, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands; they just don't” (Legally Blonde, 2001). The endorphins produced by exercising will help to keep you in a better mood and stabilize potential mood swings.
These are just a few of the many benefits of staying active throughout pregnancy. But making the commitment to be active can be hard, especially when you are expecting, so here are a few exercises which you can incorporate into your daily routines to stay fit the easy way:
- Walking is always a great and simple way to incorporate physical activity every day. Just briskly walking can get your heart rate up, without causing a lot of strain on your joints. Rather than driving, choose to walk to work or take the bus/train part of the way during your daily commute and walk the extra distance. For regular exercise enthusiasts, running is a great way to stay fit. However, use a bit of caution when running; adjust your pace and distance for your condition, and don’t overtax your body.
- Yoga builds and defines muscle, while staying gentle on your body’s joints. It keeps your body and joints limber, which you will immensely appreciate later during labor. Yoga is also a spiritual exercise, which helps better your state of mind, ultimately keeping you more relaxed. Practicing yoga throughout your pregnancy can help improve your mood and relieve stress. Learn a few simple poses to practice in the morning before you start your day or perhaps in the evening to unwind from the day's stresses. You may even look into classes taught by instructors experienced in teaching pregnant women, so that you get the most from your yoga practice.
- Weight training works to sustain your strength and keep your muscles toned throughout your pregnancy, so your body is prepared for the physicality of labor. Weight lifting can be as simple as sitting on the couch in the evening, curling some light weights as you watch your favorite shows–a great start for beginners. For those with more lifting experience, a quick trip to the gym every now and then for some weight training can be a great way to maintain your fitness. Just be careful not to push your body too hard as you get further along in your pregnancy.
Incorporating these small and simple exercises into your day will help you maintain or even increase your fitness during your pregnancy, allowing you more comfort and ease throughout its duration. For more information and exercises, check out some of these awesome resources: