We all know we should but what exactly are the benefits of exercising in pregnancy?
Helps to reduce or prevent the onset of back or pelvic pain: By assisting to maintaining strength, mobility and flexibility, doing regular and appropriate exercise in pregnancy can greatly help in preventing back and pelvic pain.
Helps prepare you body for labour: For the majority of women, the labour and delivery of your baby /’s is going to be 00the most physically demanding time of your life. The more prepared your body is, the easier it will be. Having strength in the legs and pelvis helps you to be comfortable supporting yourself through the 1st stage of labour and also gives you a great lever to work with during the pushing phase. Having flexibility especially through the pelvic muscles helps enables your body to expand for the baby to ‘exit the building’. In many ways you do end up breathing the baby out in a vaginal delivery so having a good lung capacity and cardiovascular health helps to maintain an optimal level of oxygenation during long periods of pushing.
May help prevent and manage gestational diabetes: Exercise can help you prevent the onset of gestational diabetes by maintaining your weight within a healthy range. A study showed that in a group of larger women, regular exercise cut the rate of the onset of GD in half. Exercise also helps to keep blood sugar levels within the target range which can help to manage the condition and decrease the likelihood of needing insulin injections.
Helps to maintain your weight gain within the normal range: This ultimately reduces your chances of getting gestational diabetes, decreases the chance of complications in delivery, makes you more comfortable as you have less to carry around and makes it easier to recover once bubs is born.
Increases your energy: Exercise is one of those funny things, when you are feeling low in energy the last thing you feel like doing is exercising but getting active may be the one thing that really gets that spring back in your step!
Improves your mood: All those nasty hormones, lack of sleep, stress, worry and always feeling a bit uncomfortable can be quite a dampener on the mood. Exercising causes the release of happy hormones in the brain leaving you feeling less irritable and more like your ‘normal’ self!
Improves your posture: Even a gentle form of exercise like walking can improve your posture by increasing strength in your legs, hip and back muscles as well as the swinging motion of the arms increasing the flexibility of your upper body musculature and joints to decrease back and neck pain.
Helps to prepare you physically and mentally for caring for a newborn: Having strength and fitness will improve the speed that your body recovers from labour and delivery. It will also help you deal with the lifting, long hours of holding a baby as well as reduced sleep.
Helps to keep your vitamin D levels up: if you are getting outside to exercise, you will be helping to ensure that you have great Vitamin D levels which is important in fetal bone development. In the winter months in the southern Australian states, you need to have your bare skin exposed to the sun for between 20-50 minutes outside the hours of 10-2 to ensure an adequate vitamin D synthesis.
Improves your sleep: Studies have shown that 165 minutes of exercise per week causes a huge improvement in both sleep quality and quantity. Individuals were able to fall asleep 15 minutes faster and sleep a minimum of 25 minutes longer. The introduction of regular exercise also reduced their perception of tiredness during the day.