Exercising when pregnant can provide multiple benefits. For example, preventing type 2 diabetes, minimising weight gain and preparing you for labour and delivery. The NHS states “the more active and fit you are during pregnancy, the easier it will be for you to adapt to your changing shape and weight gain.”
The benefits of exercising when pregnant, include:
Boosts your energy level
Pregnancy can deplete your energy and make daily tasks seem more difficult than usual. Understandably, you may feel unmotivated to exercise if you are nauseated and fatigued. However, engaging in physical activity can boost your energy levels up. Exercise strengthens your cardiovascular system, making you less exhausted and better able to deal with stress. It can also improve your mood thanks to exercise increasing serotonin the brain chemical.
Sleep can become somewhat of a task during pregnancy, which is why exercising can come in handy as it can wear you out and provide a more restful sleep. Sleep is also key to maintaining energy, which can be difficult when pregnant so ensure you are getting at least eight hours a night.
Decreased risk of developing Gestational Diabetes
Exercise can prevent Gestational Diabetes and possible later-onset Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes.co.uk states “Gestational Diabetes occurs when your body becomes resistant to the insulin it produces during pregnancy. This happens as a result of the increased insulin demands imposed by pregnancy. Your blood glucose levels run higher than they normally would.” Physical activity can also help to lower blood glucose levels if you have developed Gestational Diabetes.
Gain less weight
You are less likely to put on excess weight if you exercise throughout your pregnancy and can regain your pre-pregnancy body quicker. Aerobic exercises can be recommended during pregnancy as they use a large number of group muscles and can reduce excessive weight gain. Aerobic exercises include walking, stationary cycling and aquatic exercise. Studies have also shown that women who keep fit during pregnancy are more relaxed.
Regular physical activity strengthens muscles, enabling your body to better cope with the aches and pains of pregnancy. Exercise can reduce backaches, constipation, bloating and swelling.
Can help make labour easier
Research has shown that women who exercise at moderate to high levels during pregnancy have labours that are one third shorter than women who don’t exercise. Strong muscles and a healthy heart can ease labour and delivery as labour requires stamina and determination. It can also help your body bounce back quicker after you give birth.