Pregnancy, the process in which a miracle takes place in a woman’s body! Life is actually being created, grown, and nourished…I used to joke with my husband when he would ask if I could come help him with something, I would always answer, “I’m busy” as I sat on the couch with a book. He would say, “doing what?”, and I would always respond, “Growing a human!” Wasn’t that doing enough? Did I really have to exercise too?
I don’t know about you, but when I was pregnant I used it as an excuse for everything! Even as a prenatal Chiropractor, fitness instructor, and women’s health advocate I just wanted to bake, read, and relax during my pregnancy! I knew all the “optimal” things to do and yet I felt awkward, uncomfortable, and tired. I suffered pain in places I never thought I could have pain! I did not want to work out or try to motivate myself to create an exercise routine!
I share this story in hopes that it may resonate with some of you!! We all want to have the best pregnancy we can, not only for our own health and wellbeing, but for our child!
The funny thing about all the struggles we face during pregnancy, is that a lot of them can actually be improved through movement! As you can see, I will be the first to agree how challenging it can be to get motivated to exercise during pregnancy! I didn’t even mention finding time for those of you who already have little ones running around!
All jokes aside and with all of the struggles, pains, and exhaustion welcome, I want to touch on a few benefits of exercise, working out, moving your body (or whatever you want to call it) during pregnancy! Before I do, I think it’s also important to mention that balance is key in pregnancy. I am going to talk about exercise during pregnancy and the benefits...AND it’s also a time for rest, nourishing foods, doing nothing, and self care. Finding a healthy balance of movement and rest is what makes for an enjoyable pregnancy! So with that said...
A FEW Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy
1. Reduce risk of Gestational Diabetes
According to the CDC, between 2-10% of pregnant women will develop Gestational Diabetes. During pregnancy, the placenta releases hormones that decrease our sensitivity to insulin, creating risk of sugar regulation problems. Exercise can help lower blood glucose levels and improve insulin sensitivity.
2. Improves energy and mood
Pregnancy is a time of lots of hormone changes! As mentioned in the American Pregnancy Association, hormones such as estrogen and progesterone can effect brain neurotransmitters, creating mood swings. Regular physical activity, whether it is a walk, yoga, or gentle weight training routine can help improve mood and release feel good hormones! Exercise can improve energy levels, but it is important not to overtrain while pregnant. Too much of a good thing can also cause fatigue!
3. Reduce stress and anxiety
Endorphins are released through exercise, helping us feel more relaxed and happy. Movement also helps release tension in the body and clear the mind!
4. Reduce risk of back pain
All those little or big aches and pains we get throughout pregnancy can be frustrating. Gentle movement and exercise can help activate and strengthen the core, pelvic floor, and deep back muscles allowing your body to feel stronger. Better core, back, and hip strength have been shown to decrease risk of back pain!
5. Improve constipation and bloating
Another frustrating symptom during pregnancy is digestive changes. Movement and exercise can give the belly the boost it needs to feel better and work more smoothly!
6. Decrease swelling/Improve circulation
Movement helps the lymphatic system pump and fluid circulating better throughout the body. If you having swelling with pitting or swelling that shows up quickly in your face, hands and feet/legs, it is important to consult your practitioner.
7. Improve sleep!!
Sleep can be a struggle while pregnant. Since exercise relaxes and releases tension in the body as well as helping with stress, an amazing benefit is sleeping better!
8. Improved strength and awareness
Through thoughtful movement and exercise during pregnancy, improved core and pelvic floor strength and activation are important for birth and recovery.
This is just a few of the amazing benefits of exercise during pregnancy! There are so many great ways to get moving during pregnancy. The WHO recommends any women without contraindications should participate in 150 minutes of mixed aerobic and strength training per week. If you aren't sure what is beneficial or safe for your pregnancy, reach out to a local prenatal chiropractor, or another prenatal provider in your area! Two of my favorite prenatal and postpartum fitness programs are from BirthFit and The Bloom Method! Check them out!
It is recommended not to start any new intense exercise programs during pregnancy.
I highly recommend talking to your provider or seeking out a prenatal expert before starting any exercise during pregnancy. There are so many benefits, but it is important to be safe and find out what is right for you because every one and every pregnancy is different!
This blog is for educational and entertainment only. The information found of this blog is not medical advice and should not be used to diagnosis or treatment for any disease or ailment. It does not take the place of medical advice and a personal provider should be consulted with any concerns.