Benefits of Physical Activity and Exercise During Pregnancy

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Becoming pregnant represents the most dramatic physical change in a woman’s life. Her metabolism may change as her body shape changes. She might find that ordinary activities become more difficult and stressful. Nevertheless, it is highly important that women keep up their exercise routines during pregnancy.

Benefits of Exercise

Exercise offers numerous benefits for the pregnant woman. It can increase her energy levels, making her pregnancy easier to manage. It can help keep feelings of discomfort, clumsiness, and unattractiveness at bay. It can enhance circulation, reduce swelling, and stop the formation of varicose veins in the lower legs. It can also help to improve posture, resulting in fewer backaches. In addition, exercise tones the muscles, allowing the body to return to its pre-pregnancy state much faster.

Concerns About Exercise

Of course, pregnant women who are interested in exercise do have some important concerns. For instance, exercise can result in fetal hypoxia, or lack of oxygen for the baby. It can also cause fetal hyperthermia if the internal temperature gets too hot. In some cases, exercise can reduce the carbohydrate supply to the fetus, meaning that the baby doesn’t get enough food. However, such circumstances are rare and should not affect the average pregnant woman and her unborn baby.

Important Precautions

There are, however, important precautions that every pregnant woman should take. First of all, a pregnant woman should receive a doctor’s permission before beginning an exercise routine. Also, a pregnant woman should never allow her heart rate to go over 135 beats per minute for a sustained period of time. A pregnant woman should purposely avoid such exercises as jumping, skipping, lunging, and stepping. Also, non-weight bearing exercise such as cycling or swimming is preferable to weight-bearing exercise, such as jogging. A pregnant woman should also avoid strenuous exercise during the first trimester, opting for walking instead. In order to avoid dehydration, a pregnant woman should drink liquids before and after exercise and should wear loose-fitting cotton clothing.

Another important thing a pregnant woman should consider is to attempt to take periodic rest intervals in order to minimize hypoxia or heat stress to the unborn child. While exercise is certainly important for a pregnant woman, rest is critical, too. In addition, a pregnant woman should be careful to consume sufficient calories after exercise. Generally speaking, pregnancy requires an increase of 300 k/cal each day, so if you are exercising, you’ll need an even greater number of calories.

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