Although exercising may be the last thing on your mind when you're pregnant, staying active during this period of your life carries a long list of benefits. Below, we will discuss a few of these benefits.
Exercise will help you to generally feel better
Exercising releases chemicals in your brain called endorphins. These endorphins help to boost your mood and increase your energy level. This alone will help you to feel better in this new, awkward body. However, staying active can also:
Improve back pain: By performing moves that tone and strengthen your back muscles, you not only improve your posture but can also alleviate back pain due to your growing stomach.
Reduce constipation: By performing moves such as squats, you can actually assist your body's elimination process. These moves help to massage the intestines and makes elimination easier. If you are too late in your pregnancy to perform squats, a 30 minute walk or brisk 10 minute stroll should be enough to help get things moving.
Protect your joints: Pregnancy hormones cause your joints to loosen, which can cause severe aches and pains. By staying active, you stimulate your joints ability to release lubricating fluid which will help keep joint pain to a minimum.
Improve your sleep: Your body needs all of the rest it can get while pregnant. Exercising helps to expel excess stress and anxiety which are main causes of restlessness at night. Just make sure to exercise earlier in the day and not close to bedtime. Exercising late in the day can actually have a stimulating effect.
Fight fatigue: Fatigue often sits in late during your first trimester and then reappears in the third trimester. Although this may seem strange, getting too much rest can zap your energy and make you feel even more tired. Although you should not force yourself to exercise if you are truly tired, many women find that a brisk walk gives them a burst of energy.
Exercise helps prepare your body to give birth
Although exercising does not automatically guarantee that you'll have an easy birth, it can certainly make it easier. Studies have shown that women who stay active throughout their pregnancy have shorter labor periods and have a decreased need for C-sections or other medical intervention.
Regular exercise also conditions the heart and lungs, which can help you to better control your breathing during the birthing process. Controlled breathing is key in reducing pain and can help build your endurance in the case of a lengthy labor.
Regain your pre-baby body earlier
Staying fit throughout your pregnancy will help you to gain less actual body fat and will make losing any body fat you do gain that much easier. Women who exercise on a regular basis during their pregnancy lose the majority of their baby weight up to six months faster than women who did not exercise. So, taking those few extra minutes per day to stay active will have you zipping up those pre-pregnancy jeans in no time.