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Exercise during pregnancy or prenatal yoga is now becoming popular because of its lots of benefits to both mother and baby. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has also recommended the exercise during pregnancy to have the fit pregnancy and healthy baby. Regular exercise is promoted for its overall health benefits. Pregnancy is a period when some modifications are necessary but this is not the state to stuck to the complete rest if everything is normal. Research also found that the habits adopted during pregnancy could affect a woman’s health and the baby for the rest of life of both of them. According to ACOG guideline a pregnant mother should have regular physical activity as it improves the fitness level during pregnancy, helps with weight management, reduces the risk of gestational diabetes and cardiac diseases and enhances psychological well-being.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that pregnant women get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. An aerobic activity is one in which you move large muscles of the body (like those in the legs and arms) in a rhythmic way. Moderate intensity means you are moving enough to raise your heart rate and start sweating like brisk walking and general gardening (raking, weeding, or digging). You still can talk normally, but you cannot sing. This 150 minutes’ moderate workout can be divided into 30-minute workouts on 5 days of the week or into smaller 10-minute workouts throughout each day.

But the most important thing for starting the exercise during pregnancy or continuation of the exercise, the doctor’s advice is must. You should have the green signal from your treating doctor or caregiver before starting the exercise during pregnancy or prenatal yoga.

If the pregnant mother is new to exercise or doing the exercise first time during pregnancy, then start out slowly and then gradually increase your activity. Begin with as little as 5 minutes a day. Add 5 minutes each week until you can stay active for 30 minutes a day. If the pregnant mother was very active before pregnancy, then she can continue with same workouts with doctor’s advice.

Pregnant mothers who need to avoid exercise-:

  • Woman having past history of abortions

  • Incompetent cervix or cervical encirclage

  • Women carrying multiple babies ( twin or triplet or more)

  • Women with H/O vaginal bleeding, abdominal pain

  • H/O medical conditions like haemodynamically significant heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease, seizure disorders, severe anaemia, h/o of any bone injury or joint injury, uncontrolled diabetes and blood pressure (pre-eclampsia/ eclampsia)

  • Symptoms of preterm labor

  • Abnormal insertion of placenta or placental separation

  • H/o ruptured membranes/ leaking

  • Heavy smoker, drug addiction

  • Intrauterine growth retardation

Exercises which are relatively safe during pregnancy-:

  • Walking- It is safe, best, low risk and most common exercise during pregnancy. Any pregnant woman can do this, if not restricted by the consulting doctor. Brisk walking helps to increase the heart rate and improves heart functioning. Walking in the fresh early morning air, in the park or garden is very good for the health. Always remember to carry a water bottle with you while walking. It is essential to keep yourself hydrated timely. Walking also helps to the baby to be in head down position due to gravitational force of the baby’s head.

  • Running– It is comparatively risky but the mothers who are active in running since pre-pregnancy state can do it in moderation by the advice of the doctor. Avoid jerky movements during running. The mothers who don’t have the practice of running from pre-pregnancy state then they should  stay away from it. Jogging can be done in moderation by the advice of the doctor.

  • Warm up exercise- It is helpful to get the muscle into stretching mode during exercise. So it is better to start the exercise with warm up and end with cool down. During pregnancy due to hormonal changes, the muscle and ligaments loses its strength and warm up build the strength and flexibility of them.

  • Swimming- This is a good exercise during pregnancy and safe also. During swimming almost all body muscles are involved and supports the body weight. It increases the cardiovascular strength and lungs capacity. Water is a best soothing agent and relieves backache, reduce swelling of feet and aches. Diving should be avoided especially during advanced pregnancy. Scuba diving is not safe during pregnancy.

  • Stationary cycling-  It is good for cardiovascular fitness and strengthening leg muscles but be careful while doing it especially in the third trimester as there are increased chances of postural imbalance.

  • Tennis and racquetball- They are safe if you have practice of these exercises since pre-pregnancy state, but you need to careful while playing it as rapid movements and changing position may increase the chances of imbalance and self injury.

  • Golf and bowling- You can enjoy them to see them as there are chances of physical hurt while playing them.

  • Snow and water skiing, surfing- All they have increased chances of physical injury while doing them so be careful about them.

  • Aerobics- Certain aerobic exercises can be done during pregnancy under trained instructor with proper techniques.

  • Yoga- This is very popular during pregnancy. The modified yoga poses has lots of benefits during pregnancy. It is an ancient technique about physical, mental as well as spiritual wellness. You can do it under the supervision of trained instructor after getting the green signal of your treating doctor

  • Meditation and relaxation- These are safe throughout the pregnancy. It is helpful in emotional and spiritual well being of both mother and baby.

Whatever kind of exercise you are going to choose, your and baby’s safety is utmost important. So choose the exercise regime wisely and always remember to listen to your body.


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