The benefits of staying active during pregnancy

What are the benefits of exercise in pregnancy?
Why exercise? It may be hard enough just to get dressed every day if you’re feeling bloated and sick to your stomach, but believe it or not, a little effort can leave you feeling energised and perhaps a bit like your pre-pregnancy self. Because exercise promotes muscle tone, strength, and endurance, it can help you carry the weight you gain during pregnancy, prepare you for the physical stress of labour, and make getting back into shape after the baby is born much easier. Before beginning any exercise programme, make sure you follow safety guidelines, especially now that you’re pregnant.

Exercising will give you more energy
Pregnancy can rob you of energy, but regular bouts of exercise, such as brisk walking, will make you feel able to tackle your daily tasks. Exercise strengthens your cardiovascular system, so you don’t tire as easily. With muscles that are strong and toned, you need less effort to engage in any activity, be it shopping for food or sitting through meetings at the office.

Exercising will help prepare you for the rigours of childbirth
It makes perfect sense: the better shape you’re in, the stronger you’ll be to cope with labour and the delivery. Giving birth is akin to running a marathon – it requires stamina, determination, and focus. Keeping physically active during pregnancy is good preparation for the hard work of labour. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) states that weight-bearing exercise throughout pregnancy can reduce the length of labour and decrease delivery complications. Additionally, some research has shown that fetuses of women who exercised during labour may tolerate labour better than those of the non-exercisers.

Exercise reduces pregnancy discomforts
Exercise stretches and strengthens your muscles, which helps your body cope better with the aches and pains of pregnancy. Stretches ease back pain, walking improves your circulation, and swimming can strengthen your abdominal muscles.

Exercise will help you sleep better
When you’re carrying all that extra weight in front of you, finding a comfortable position to sleep in at night can be a real challenge. Exercise will help you work off any excess energy, and will tire you enough to lull you into a deeper, more restful slumber.

Reduce stress and lift your spirits with a work-out
Pregnancy and having a child is a life-changing, momentous event which can leave you feeling ecstatic yet overwhelmed and anxious at the same time. One good way to shake the blues is by dancing to the beat of a happy tune. One study found that exercise can boost your levels of serotonin, a brain chemical linked to mood, putting you in better spirits. When you’re feeling a little blue, try putting on your favourite CD and kicking up your heels in the living room, or sign up for a low-impact dance class. Make sure you follow low-impact aerobics and let your teacher know that you are pregnant.