I get many requests and questions on why I do not run exercise classes for pregnant women. Am I not a supporter of exercise during pregnancy?
No … on the contrary, I am a huge proponent of encouraging mummies to keep active during pregnancy. Really, pregnancy is not a disease. You can technically still engage in most of the same activities as when you were not pregnant.
So yes to staying active while pregnant!
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists recommends 30 minutes a day for pregnant women, for as long as they are physically able.
That being said, I personally will not encourage pregnant mummies to start thinking they can be a hero this period and start engaging in overtly adventurous activities. In a nutshell, do what you had been comfortable doing, but take note of the following:
- Don’t try activities that are absolutely new and foreign during this 40 weeks
- If you are a hardcore cross-fitter or gym go-er, do what you are comfortable with but consider reducing the intensity or modify to your body’s needs.
- Always listen to your body. Trust what your body tells you and don’t be a hero.
Personally my girlfriends and I signed up for SHAPE Run back in 2010, when I was about 16 weeks heavy. But we did not run, because I was mainly feeling nauseous and heavy. They were so awesome to accompany me on a 5km brisk walk!
What if you had been sedentary all along? Everything is new to you, so what can you start with?
Don’t worry mummy, there are still enough activities that you can keep engaged in to stay active. Here’s a list of activities you can get started on and rotate to avoid boredom.
- Go for brisk walks. 15-30 min a day of stress free walk does wonders.
- Go for a swim. Water buoyancy is so great for our ballooned weight
- Join a prenatal yoga class
- Join a prenatal pilates class
- Engage a prenatal fitness specialist. Only if you really want personal attention. But otherwise, I would say the above activities will keep you well occupied.
Unless you are facing terrible morning sickness, or going through pregnancy complications, the majority of us can pretty much stay active and maintain an energetic pregnancy. And there are many good reasons why you should make it your priority to keep it this way.
- Happy mummy, happy baby
Research shows that exercise during pregnancy may improve the function of infants’ hearts. Also when you exercise, your endorphin levels go up, which inevitably means baby gets more happy hormones too!
- Keeps your weight in check
Research shows you might put on 7 pounds less than pregnant women who don’t work out, while still staying within the healthy weight-range gain.
- Reduces pregnancy complications
Regular exercise participation likely reduces the risk of pregnancy complications, such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes, and shortens the duration of active labor.
- Promotes healthy soft tissues
Each time you move, you are hydrating the soft tissues in your body. Healthy, supple and hydrated soft tissues mean you get less body aches. Not to mention, the soft tissues at the pelvic area will also be kept healthy and strong for childbirth and recovery.
- You’ll bounce back faster after delivery.
Compared with new moms who were inactive during pregnancy, your active pregnancy will more likely result in your ability to socialize and enjoy hobbies and entertainment post-baby. You will cope better with the demands of new motherhood.
The list of benefits can go on. But if these 5 big reasons are not enough to get you sold, I don’t know what else can. Besides, there are enough activities that you can engage in during pregnancy to keep yourself active. Don’t have the impression that you need to be joining classes to make ‘exercise happen’.
- May, L.E., R.R. Suminski, M.D. Langaker, H.W. Yeh, and K.M. Gustafson. Regular Maternal Exercise Dose and Fetal Heart Outcome.Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012.
- Oken, E., Y. Ning, S. L. Rifas-Shiman, J. S. Radesky, J. W. Rich-Edwards, and M. W. Gillman: Associations of physical activity and inactivity before and during pregnancy with glucose tolerance. Obstet Gynecol 108 (5):1200–1207, 2006
- Melzer, K., Y. Schutz, M. Boulvain, and B. Kayser: Physical activity and pregnancy: cardiovascular adaptations, recommendations and pregnancy outcomes. Sports Med 40 (6):493–507, 2010