Exercise during pregnancy

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Exercise is an important part of healthy pregnancy. Moving your body during pregnancy keeps you active and physically fit with overall health and wellness. Regular exercise decreases some of the common discomforts such as backaches and fatigue. The duration of exercise should start from 15 minute and gradually progress to 30 minutes  with proper warm up and cool down period of 15 minute each.  You will  find it is even recommended by the doctors.

Here is a list of reasons why exercises are  very important during pregnancy:

  • Hike up your energy level: Exercise helps pregnant woman to get through her daily tasks or cope-up with a demanding schedule more easily by improving her cardiovascular system. Through exercises a pregnant woman  stays active all day  without getting easily fatigued during her routine activities.
  • To get good sleep: Getting a comfortable sleep during pregnancy can be a real challenge. But the women who work-out on regular basis say they fall asleep faster and sleep longer than inactive moms to-be.
  • Makes your labour easier and less painful: Strong abs and a fit cardiovascular system can give you more stamina and power for the pushing stage.
  • Helps you to get your fit body back soon after childbirth: If you’ve maintained your muscles during your pregnancy, your body will quickly get toned back after you give birth. You’re also less likely to put on excess weight if you exercise during your pregnancy.

One of the most important questions is, at which stage what exercises are  useful and safe to perform.

1-3 months: Walking, Aerobics, swimming and prenatal yoga are the best exercises for the beginners to stay fit.

4-6 months: Pilates, Squats and Pelvic tilt exercises helps to strengthen the muscles.

7-9 months:  Pelvic-strengthening exercises, relaxation techniques and deep breathing exercises  relieve stress and build stamina needed for labor and delivery.

These activities carry little risk of injury, benefit your entire body, and can be continued until birth.

Relaxation is an active, purposeful activity in which you consciously release tension. Relaxing your muscles helps to reduce physical tension and pain. It also provides a feeling of emotional well being which reduces anxiety and in turn reduces your sensitivity to pain.

Precautions when exercising during Pregnancy

  • Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workout. Signs of dehydration include dizziness, a racing or pounding heart, and urinating only small amounts or having urine that is dark yellow.
  • Wear a sports bra that gives lots of support to help protect your breasts. Later in pregnancy, a belly support belt may reduce discomfort while walking or running.
  • Avoid exercising in overheated or humid conditions, especially in the first trimester. Drink plenty of water, wear loose-fitting clothing, and exercise in a temperature-controlled room. Do not exercise outside when it is very hot or humid.
  • Avoid standing still or lying flat on your back as much as possible. When you lie on your back, your uterus presses on a large vein that returns blood to the heart. Standing motionless can cause blood to pool in your legs and feet.

There are certain exercises and activities that can be harmful during pregnancy if performed. They are:

  • Holding your breath during any activity.

Activities that require extensive jumping, hopping, skipping, bouncing, or running.

  • A pregnant women should avoid sit-ups and other exercises done while lying flat on back because this position can lower blood flow to the uterus and throughout the body.
  • Deep knee bends, full sit-ups, double leg raises, and straight-leg toe touches should also be avoided.
  • Lifting any heavy material or holding it for long should strictly be avoided during later stages of pregnancy.

It is recommended that always start exercising after consulting your gynecologist or physiotherapist.

Warning sign that one should stop exercising during pregnancy

  • Chest Pain, rapid heart rate than normal.
  • Feeling faintness, dizzyness, nausea or light-headedness.
  • Fluid leaking & bleeding from Vagina.
  • Experience pain in your joints and ligaments during or after a workout
  • Feeling exhausted or out of breath to carry on a conversation.
  • Feeling extremely sore, weak, or shaky for a long period after exercising.

Dr. Roopali Bhardwaj , Head of Dept .Physiotherapy, Atlanta Hospital, Ghaziabad

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