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Working Out While Expecting: Here Are Some Exercises For Pregnant Women

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Jul. 3 2024, Published 8:00 a.m. ET

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As your body changes with pregnancy, many women wish to explore ways to connect to their bodies through exercise. But you may wonder, “Can I work out while pregnant?” Being concerned about your safety and that of your baby is expected. However, it’s a myth that you can’t work out while pregnant. If your doctor hasn’t advised you otherwise, working out when you’re pregnant has many health benefits.

Benefits Of Exercising While Pregnant

Physical activity during pregnancy has many benefits for both mom and baby. Exercise can improve your mood and energy levels, including easing depression and anxiety. It can also help reduce back pain, constipation, swelling, and bloating. You can also lower the risk of pre-term labor, postpartum depression, and cesarean delivery. 

“Studies have shown both positive body composition and neurodevelopment outcomes in the children of women who exercised regularly throughout their pregnancy,” according to the University of Utah Health.

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Exercises For Pregnant Women

Given that you’ve been cleared to exercise during your pregnancy, 30 minutes of low to moderate-intensity exercise can be beneficial.

“If you exercised and were physically fit before pregnancy, you can safely continue exercising throughout your pregnancy,” states the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “If you were inactive before pregnancy, you can start exercising at a moderate pace.”

Here are some low-impact exercises to get you and your baby moving.

1. Swimming or water aerobics

2. Walking or elliptical machines

3. Stationary bike cycling

4. Stretching and strengthening exercises such as yoga or pilates

Also, consider adding pelvic floor exercises, such as kegel exercises, to your routine. Being pregnant and giving birth weakens your pelvic floor. 

You may experience a painless abdominal separation along the middle of your abs called diastasis recti after birth. “It affects 60% of people. It usually resolves itself within eight weeks of delivery,” the Cleveland Clinic shares. “About 40% of those who have diastasis recti still have it by six months postpartum.”

You’ll need to perform gentle movements that engage your abdominal muscles to repair it. Traditional sit-ups and crunches may worsen the condition, but a physical therapist or fitness professional can create an exercise plan to help you recover.

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Exercises To Avoid During Pregnancy

Although exercise is usually recommended while pregnant, it’s best to avoid any movements that could cause you to fall. Heavy lifting and contact sports such as football, soccer, or other competitive sports should also be avoided when pregnant. In addition, you should pass on exercises that involve pressure changes, such as skydiving, scuba diving, or high-altitude skiing.

If you’ve felt unsure about exercising during any phase of your pregnancy, be sure to ask your doctor, “How can I work out while pregnant?” By avoiding dehydration and overexertion, you can safely move your body and get the many benefits of exercise that will help even after you give birth. If you start to feel dizzy, have unusual shortness of breath, or have any leakages, consult with your doctor immediately. Hopefully, you’ll have a safe and healthy pregnancy.

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By: Wanda Duncan

Wanda Duncan is a multipotentialite entrepreneur and travel and wellness writer. She’s slow traveled since 2010 through Europe, Southeast Asia, and parts of Africa and Central America. Find her work in Fodor’s Travel, Her Agenda, The Black Wall Street Times, Love B. Scott, and WeTravel. Wanda is the founder of Black Women Travel and won the Women in Travel Summit 2023 Bessie Awards Social Impact Award and was nominated for the 2021 Trailblazer Award. Connect with Wanda through her website WarmlyWanda.com.

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