"There is a vast amount of literature that warns women about the risks and dangers of exercising during pregnancy, and comparatively much less about how and why it is important. Research conducted on the link between exercise and pregnancy indicates that global trends continue to show decreasing amounts of physical activity and increasing percentages of obesity during pregnancy. While pregnancy may seem like a good time to relax because of back pain, fatigue, swollen ankles, and the general stress that come with preparing for a life-altering experience, here are some great reasons to become active again.
The positive effects of exercising during pregnancy are not limited to the physical health of your child at birth. Exercise and pregnancy actually go very well together. Exercise during pregnancy has been proven to:
- Elevate mood and reduce the risk of postpartum depression
- Prevent excessive weight gain and obesity
- Reduce the risk of gestation diabetes and pregnancy-related high blood pressure
- Boost energy levels and improve sleep
- Improve general fitness levels
- Ease back pain and other pregnancy-related discomforts
Besides your own health-status, the short term and long term health of your baby is also improved. Research indicates that babies of women who exercise are better able to tolerate the stresses of labor and childbirth than non-exercising women. Even in early childhood, children of women who exercise during pregnancy show better development and weigh less than children of women who do not exercise. Exercising moms also play a part in the health of their baby’s heart: the more frequently the mother exercises, the healthier the baby’s heart (lower fetal heart-rate and higher heart-rate variability).
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists both encourage pregnant women to participate in exercise, with an aim of maintaining fitness throughout pregnancy. Current guidelines suggest pregnant women engage in 30 minutes of physical activity (moderate intensity) a day. Even if women were previously inactive, starting during pregnancy is not harmful if they are careful and start slowly. Before beginning any exercise program, pregnant women should consult their health care provider for an overall health check, including obstetric and medical risks."