3 Reasons Why You Should Exercise During Pregnancy

It’s 6 AM and your evil alarm is screaming, “Wake up, wake up, wake up!” You groan internally, remembering your new exercise goal. “But do I have to exercise?” you ask no one in particular.   

Finding motivation to exercise can be hard. With so many things to do in a day, exercise isn’t always a favorite item on the to-do list.  

Once you add pregnancy into the mix, exercise can seem near impossible! With less energy, morning sickness, and all sorts of physical changes, exercising may feel like the last thing you want to do.

But what if exercise could actually help?

Here’s the good news: It can! In fact, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that healthy women get 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week during pregnancy.1*

But why is it that exercise during pregnancy is so important? And how can it affect you and your future baby?

1. Physical Benefits

Needless to say, pregnancy brings a lot of physical changes and challenges. Whether it’s managing back pain, constipation, or weight, these physical difficulties can be a little frustrating, not to mention uncomfortable.

Luckily, following recommended exercise guidelines can help! The CDC,2 the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists,3 and the American Pregnancy Association4 say that regular, moderate exercise during pregnancy:

  • Strengthens heart and lungs during and after pregnancy
  • Decreases back pain
  • Decreases risk of gestational diabetes and improves weight management
  • Improves digestion, including decreased constipation
  • Improves sleep quality

While exercising won’t solve all of your physical challenges, it can be key to maintaining optimal physical health during pregnancy.

2. Emotional Benefits

Pregnancy not only affects your body but also your mind. Hormone changes invite unwelcome mood swings, a changing body can make it hard to feel confident, and extra worries about the future may creep in.  

While some emotional challenges require professional help, exercise during pregnancy can provide great emotional benefits overall. According to the CDC5 and the American Pregnancy Association,6 exercise:  

  • Improves mood
  • Improves self-image
  • Helps you feel more in control

Try taking a brisk walk, going for a swim, or doing other approved exercise to see how it can improve your emotional health this pregnancy. You may be surprised at how much it helps!

3. Benefits for the Baby

While the personal benefits of exercise abound, this isn’t the only reason women should exercise during pregnancy. Not only does exercise help expecting moms, but it also can help the baby be healthier! Research shows that exercise:

As you try your best to take care of your own health, you’ll simultaneously help yourself and your little one.

Say Yes to Exercise

Although your mind and body may protest, get up and moving today! Find a form of moderate exercise you enjoy this pregnancy. Eventually, your mind, body, and future baby will thank you.

*Disclaimer: Stay Safe

While for most women, moderate exercise is helpful during pregnancy, not every pregnancy is the same. Make sure to consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Additionally, keep in mind that some exercises, such as contact sports or exercises on your back, should be avoided during pregnancy. To learn more about safety precautions for exercise during pregnancy, see the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists page here.11

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References

1, 2. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015, June 4). Healthy pregnant or postpartum

women. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pregnancy/index.htm

3. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2017, July). Exercise during

pregnancy. Retrieved from https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Exercise-During-Pregnancy

4. American Pregnancy Association. (2016, September 2). Exercise during pregnancy. Retrieved

from http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/exercise-during-pregnancy/

5. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015, June 4). Healthy pregnant or postpartum

women. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pregnancy/index.htm

6. American Pregnancy Association. (2015, July). Effects of exercise on pregnancy. Retrieved

from http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/effects-of-exercise-on-pregnancy/

7. Bahls, M., Sheldon, R. D., Taheripour, P., Clifford, K. A., Foust, K. B., Breslin, E. D., Marchent-Forde, J. N., Cabot, R. A., Harold Laughlin, M., Bidwell, C. A., & Newcomer, S. C. (2014). Mother’s exercise during pregnancy programmes vasomotor function in adult offspring. Experimental Physiology, 99(1), 205-219.

8, 9, 10. Moyer, C., Reoyo, O. R., & May, L. (2016). The influence of prenatal exercise on

offspring health: A review. Clinical Medical Insights: Women’s Health, 9, 37-42.

11. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2017, July). Exercise during

pregnancy. Retrieved from https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Exercise-During-Pregnancy

Pictures retrieved from http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com/Expectant-Mother-Girl-Pregnant-Pregnancy-Woman-1561750 and https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mood_dice.svg.

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