We know exercise and nutrition play a pivotal role in having a healthy pregnancy, but what does being active really do for us? There are so many great reasons to follow a safe exercise program and commit to healthy living. Here are 9 Health Benefits of Prenatal Exercise.
1) Achieve Healthy Weight Gain: A jump in numbers on the scale is an expected outcome as you progress through your pregnancy. The guidelines for how much weight gain is best will also vary, based on your body both pre-pregnancy and throughout your prenatal journey. Among women of all sizes, proper nutrition and a moderate exercise routine are associated with:
- steady, healthy weight gain
- fewer pregnancy complications
- a greater postpartum weight loss at 2 months postpartum.
So regardless of your current weight or activity level, evidence shows a healthy, active pregnancy can provide long and short-term health benefits!
2) Boost Your Mood & Bust Stress: Your changing body, family, and routine could have you a little stressed out, and you aren’t alone! Studies show as many as 10-30% of women may suffer from stress-related depression in pregnancy. Prenatal exercise can help reduce the incidences of depressive symptoms and help moms clear their minds. Take advantage of endorphins- this naturally produced chemical released during exercise is shown to improve your mood and help you more easily manage stress!
3) Train Your Body for Delivery Day: The average marathon, 26.2 miles, take elite athletes a little over 2 hours to complete. This is about the same amount of time, on average, moms can spend in active labor! Like any athlete, training your muscles for the required work is the most effective way to be prepared for the big day. Specifically training your deep core (‘pushing muscles’), legs, and back, within your total body prenatal exercise program can significantly improve your pregnancy and delivery experience. Learning Erica’s Push Prep Method™ could help you ease of and speed of delivering your little one. You can find her methods in her book, The Knocked-Up Fitness Guide to Pregnancy and by video in the Prenatal + Postnatal Membership.
4) Improve Sleep: Getting enough sleep is imperative to baby’s growth, and your well-being– but restlessness and discomfort can reduce the quality and quantity of your shut-eye. Thankfully, a regular prenatal exercise program, coupled with proper nutrition, can help improve your ZZZ’s. A prenatal exercise routine can improve your sleep by optimizing your energy output, stretching and relaxing your over-worked muscles, and clearing your mind for some peaceful rest– rather than restlessness!
5) Keep Blood Sugar in Check: Gestational Diabetes is one of the most common pregnancy ailments affecting moms-to-be. What is often thought about as a routine test, is actually an indicator for many serious health complications. In medical studies, as many as 85% of previously insulin dependent moms have been able to reduce their insulin dependency, improve blood glucose control, and maintain normal glucose levels without medications, simply by following a moderate prenatal exercise routine, combined with healthy diet. These moms also experienced less pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum complications related to blood glucose. Need a bonus? Studies also show maternal exercise improves baby’s insulin sensitivity into adulthood! Yay for healthy babies!
6) Reduce Swelling & Water Retention: Preeclampsia, a serious pregnancy condition characterized by swelling, high blood pressure, and fluid retention can be frightening and challenging to combat, especially after the onset of more serious swelling symptoms. Early intervention of prenatal exercise and nutrition can ensure your blood pressure stays in check and your body is functioning optimally. The key is regularly participating in safe aerobic activities, helping teach your body to regulate blood pressure on its own. Noticing some swelling? That can be totally normal in pregnancy, but remember to stay hydrated at all times to reduce swelling, and in addition to regular exams, check in with your doctor with any new or worsening symptoms!
7) Ease Backaches: Changes to your joints, muscles, and weight are common culprits for pregnancy discomfort. Lower back pain is one of the most common pregnancy discomforts since your core (chest to hips) experience significant growth and adjustments to accommodate the baby. Stretching, yoga, and many specific prenatal exercises can release tension, stretch out your overworked body, and strengthen muscles to improve your ability to carry baby comfortably.
8) Kick Recovery Into High Gear: Depending on your pregnancy, labor, and baby’s positioning, your delivery may or may not go exactly as planned. Regularly exercising in pregnancy can increase your chances of natural childbirth in most uncomplicated pregnancies, but no matter how your baby makes their entrance, it will take some time to recover from your 9+ month long athletic event.
Whether your delivery was met with complications, or you’re recovering from the physical changes to your hips and core while adjusting to motherhood, engaging in prenatal exercise trains your body retain the muscular connections needed to regain strength postpartum. In addition to physical recovery, exercise boosts your immune system — helping any incisions heal, and protecting you from lurking germs (even more important when you’ve got a new baby!).
9) Long Term Healthfulness for Baby: One common denominator among studies regarding health, activity, and nutrition in pregnancy, is that so many studies are finding babies born to healthy moms, are healthier babies!
Reducing risks of complications, long term health benefits such as healthy weight into adulthood and reduced cases of juvenile diabetes, and reducing neonatal macrosomia (baby being born too large)– are just some of the benefits baby can expect from your healthy pregnancy. What’s more, continuing these healthy habits postpartum will teach your child how to be healthy for the rest of their lives! You Go, Mama!
Of course, there are more than 9 Health Benefits of Prenatal Exercise, so check out these Knocked-Up Fitness Video Tutorials:
And don’t forget to keep up with the newest exercises by becoming a member HERE!