Pregnancy workout: 7 effective exercises for expecting mothers

Published on Oct 09, 2022 04:09 PM IST

From walking, prenatal Yoga, pregnancy Pilates to swimming, there are some amazing exercises that will make your pregnancy experience less stressful and more fun.

Workout during pregnancy works wonders for both the mother and the baby.(Freepik)
Workout during pregnancy works wonders for both the mother and the baby.(Freepik)
By, Delhi

Should pregnant women exercise? There are many myths related to working out during pregnancy and many women feel it may increase their risk of miscarriage or certain workouts are not ideal during this time. While nutrition in pregnancy is quite important for the growth and development of the baby, physical activity and exercise would help improve blood circulation, ease labour, lessen physical discomfort, improve moods among a variety of other health benefits. From walking, prenatal Yoga, pregnancy Pilates to swimming, there are some amazing exercises that will make your pregnancy experience less stressful and more fun. (Also read: World Mental Health Day 2022: Tips to de-stress during pregnancy)

"Pregnancy is the period of utmost care and staying active unless it is medically contraindicated. Workout during pregnancy works wonders for both the mother and the baby. It is important to understand that pregnancy is not a disease and is a period of staying fit and happy in order to have a positive impact on the baby," says Dr. Priyanka Khanna (PT) Lactation Consultant & Women's Health Physiotherapist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, New Delhi, Punjabi Bagh.

Dr Khanna says workout during pregnancy helps prevent mood swings, improve sleep, increases chances of having shorter and easier labour, improves oxygen transfer at placenta, prevent gestation-related illnesses among other issues.

Dr Khanna also suggests some effective prenatal workouts that you can choose from during pregnancy.

1. Prenatal Yoga: It helps to improve your flexibility and keep your mind calm. Benefits of yoga include improving relaxation, increasing flexibility, improving blood circulation and helping the pregnant woman breathe properly during labour and delivery. Few of the asanas that can be done during pregnancy are tree pose, trikonasana, matsyasana, locust salabhasana, ardha matsendrasana etc. All the asanas should be done according to the week of pregnancy and under supervision of a prenatal yoga therapist.

2. Walking: Brisk walk is a very good way of starting your workout regime. You can start with 10 to 15 minutes of brisk walk or as your stamina allows and then gradually increase it to 30-45 minutes every day. It’s a good cardiovascular workout and you can do with your loved ones.

3. Swimming: Swimming, walking in water, and aqua aerobics lead to movement of body parts without putting pressure on the joints. Buoyancy assists and resists as well leading to strengthening of muscles without post workout soreness. Working out in swimming pool should be done with little precaution like use railing while walking in pool so that you don’t slip. Do not hold your breath in the pool to prevent straining your heart. Do not practice diving or jumping.

4. Gentle aerobic exercises: Mild to moderate aerobic workout can be done during pregnancy. It helps to lift your mood as dancing releases happy hormones in the body. Avoid jumping and any high impact movements. Aerobics with music is a great way to uplift mood and to deal with mood swings while strengthening the heart and lungs.

5. Strength training: This should be done with utmost care and under supervision as if not done properly can lead to injuries. Proper warm up before and after the exercises helps to prevent injuries. Dumbells, therabands and cuff weights can be used to add resistance and strengthen different muscle groups. Core strengthening can also be done to prevent episodes of backache. Pelvic floor strengthening should be done to avoid stress incontinence and prepare the pelvis for labour and delivery.

6. Pregnancy Pilates: Pilates are low impact exercises that help to improve core strength and flexibility. It is supposed to be done according to your gestational phase and is not prescribed for every trimester. Check with your prenatal trainer before practising this form of prenatal workout. The movements focus on pelvic floor, lower abdominal muscles and back muscles, that helps to maintain good posture, improves strength, and balance. The exercises can be practiced either by using strength training equipment such as exercise balls and resistance bands or on a yoga mat using your body weight as resistance.

7. Belly Dancing: For the people who love to dance, belly dancing is another way of keeping your pelvis and abdomen strong while enjoying your pregnancy phase. It helps to reduce anxiety and stress, makes you more confident, helps in proper positioning of the baby, toning of pelvic floor, strengthening of core muscles and woman gets an opportunity to socialise and interact with other pregnant women. Again, like other form of workout it should be done under supervision and if it is allowed medically.

"Whatever form of exercise you choose always remember the goal is to keep your body and baby healthy so do listen to your body and do not force yourself to workout beyond your capacity. In case you feel exhausted, divide your workout in parts and do it in intervals. Stay happy and always remember to connect with the baby in the womb," says Dr Khanna.

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