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Regular exercise during pregnancy can improve health, reduce the risk of excess weight gain and back pain, and it may make delivery easier.
Moderate exercise during pregnancy may give a newborn a healthier start.
Exercise at any time can improve heart health and stamina, decrease fatigue and constipation, boost mood and energy levels, enhance sleep, and improve muscle strength.
A well-chosen exercise program can have the same benefits during pregnancy.
It is important to discuss any changes in exercise habits with a health care provider, to make sure you do the right kind of exercise at the right stage of pregnancy.
Fast facts about exercise during pregnancy
- Here are some facts about exercising during pregnancy. More detail is in the main article.
- Exercising during pregnancy can reduce the risk of excess weight gain, back issues, prepare muscles for childbirth, and can give the baby a healthier start in life.
- Those who do not already follow an exercise regimen already should ease into exercise.
- Exercise is important, but it should be low-impact, and it is important to know when to stop.
- Swimming, brisk walking, yoga, and stationary cycling are good ways to get fit during pregnancy.
Benefits of exercise during pregnancy
During pregnancy, exercise should aim to:
- increase heart rate steadily and improve circulation
- keep the body flexible and strong
- support and control healthy weight gain
- prepare the muscles for labor and birth
Exercise during pregnancy can help:
- shorten the labor process
- increase the chances of a natural birth
- decrease the need for pain relief
- speed up recovery after delivery
- reduce the risk of gestational diabetes and hypertension
- decrease the likelihood of preterm labor and birth
- It may also give an infant a healthier start.
Research shows that when pregnant women exercise, fetal heart rate is lower. Newborns may also have a healthier birth weight, a lower fat mass, improved stress tolerance, and advanced neurobehavioral maturation.
Tips and cautions
Women who were exercising regularly before pregnancy, and who are healthy during pregnancy, should be able to continue exercising as before, with slight changes depending on the trimester.
Women who have not been exercising before pregnancy will benefit from taking up a low-intensity program and gradually move to a higher activity level.
Exercise is recommended for 20 to 30 minutes each day, on most days. Most exercises are safe to perform during pregnancy if done with caution.
Tips for healthy exercise during pregnancy
Physical changes during pregnancy create extra demands on the body, so it is important to exercise with care.