The time when pregnant women were considered ‘too delicate’ to exercise has long gone. It is now understood that exercise during pregnancy (so long as Mom is healthy) is considered extremely beneficial. Not only can it help reduce complications during pregnancy, but it can also help in a safer, sometimes easier, labour.
5 BENEFITS OF EXERCISING WHEN PREGNANT
1. Control weight gain. Research has shown that when exercising during pregnancy you are more likely to put on 3kg less than someone who does not exercise while pregnant. A healthy weight gain (10-16kg) during pregnancy is and should be expected.
2. Helps with labour, delivery and recovery. Unfortunately this is not a 100% guarantee, but having a strong cardiovascular system will give you more oomph and stamina during the pushing stage of labour. Research suggests that women who continue regular weight-bearing exercise throughout pregnancy show a marked decrease in the need for pain relief during labour, in the incidence of maternal exhaustion, and in the need for artificially rupturing the membranes to stimulate the labour.
3. Decreased pregnancy related discomforts. Studies indicate that women who exercise regularly during pregnancy have a lower occurrence of lower back pain. The three factors that seem to influence a decrease in maternal discomforts include exercise that is regular, weight-bearing and sustained over time.
Regular exercise in the general population is associated with lower incidence of upper respiratory infections. Researchers have observed that exercising pregnant women experience lower incidence of colds, flu symptoms, sinusitis and bronchitis. On the other hand people who exercise too strenuously have an increased incidence of upper respiratory infections. Moderation is the key!
4. Increased levels of stamina. Regular exercise increases the oxygen-carrying capacity of the haemoglobin, so that with each breath more oxygen is delivered to the tissues as well as the growing foetus. This puts less strain on the heart muscle and contributes to increased stamina. Pregnancy in itself stresses the cardiovascular system of the mom, therefore the combination of being pregnant and exercising improves aerobic capacity.
5. Happy mom, happy pregnancy, happy baby! Pregnant ladies and new mothers who exercise, tend to have a more positive attitude than those who don’t. In any case, women who exercise regularly during and after pregnancy report a better body image and overall feeling of wellness.
Read more about Pop Fit in our July 2014 issue. Subscribe here!