There are a lot of things you’re supposed to do during pregnancy, but it’s easier to do those things when you understand the “why.”
You eat a healthy, balanced diet so you can provide your growing baby with all the nutrients they need to thrive. You avoid smoking and alcoholic drinks so you don’t pass on their negative effects to your little one. You visit your OB-GYN so you can make sure your baby is healthy and developing properly.
You know you should exercise during pregnancy – but why? Learn all about how exercise can benefit you and your little one throughout pregnancy and beyond.
What are the benefits of exercise during pregnancy?
There are so many reasons to stay active during pregnancy – check out a few ways exercise during pregnancy can benefit you.
Your heart is responsible for pumping blood throughout your body, delivering oxygen and important nutrients to your baby so they can grow until they’re ready to make their grand entrance into the world. Regular physical activity can help keep your heart strong and support a healthy pregnancy.
Weight-bearing and resistance exercises like weightlifting (as long as your healthcare provider approves), walking, climbing stairs, and even dancing, can help keep your bones strong to carry you through your pregnancy.
But exercise isn’t the only way to support bone health.* Make sure you get enough calcium and vitamin D each day to maintain bone health throughout pregnancy and beyond.*
Healthy weight gain
Pregnancy brings so many changes to your body, including weight gain. Keep in mind that this is a perfectly healthy (and even essential) part of pregnancy. The amount of weight you should gain during pregnancy is a little different for everyone, but regular physical activity can help support healthy weight gain throughout your pregnancy, and may even make it easier to return to your pre-pregnancy weight after delivery.
You’re probably full of excitement and joy about your little one’s arrival, but the physical, emotional, and hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy may leave you feeling overwhelmed. Exercise isn’t just for your physical health – it can help support your mental health, too. Stay active to take care of your mind, body, and soul.
Between fluctuating hormone levels, trouble settling into a comfortable sleeping position, and frequent overnight bathroom trips, many expecting mothers feel tired during pregnancy. But getting enough sleep is important for both you and your baby. Physical activity may be part of the solution. Research suggests that regular exercise can help support sleep quality for pregnant women.
Sometimes you won’t feel like exercising while you’re pregnant, and that’s okay. Be sure to listen to your body and rest when you need it. But sometimes moving your body can actually help you feel better and relieve some of the discomfort you may feel during pregnancy. You don’t have to fit in a strenuous full-body workout – just consider taking a light stroll through your neighborhood.
Labor is strenuous. And although it’s totally worth it once you’re holding your little one in your arms, it would be great if there were a way to make it just a little bit easier. Regular exercise can help you prepare for the physical demands of labor, and some studies even suggest that staying active during pregnancy may shorten active labor time.
Can exercise during pregnancy benefit your baby, too?
The benefits of exercise during pregnancy may extend to your baby, too. Research suggests that staying active throughout your pregnancy may support healthy neuromotor development, and may even increase the likelihood that your little one will lead an active life.
How much exercise should you get during pregnancy?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends about 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. That sounds like a lot, but it’s just 30 minutes of movement five days per week. If you didn’t exercise regularly before pregnancy, break your physical activity into short bursts – start with ten minutes and gradually work up to 30 minutes. Be sure to listen to your body, honor your limits, and fuel your activity with a well-balanced diet and plenty of water.
Staying active during pregnancy benefits both you and your little one, and the healthy habits you build throughout your pregnancy can help support your overall wellness for a lifetime. But no matter how many benefits physical activity may bring, safety always comes first. Check with your healthcare provider before you introduce a new exercise routine.