The Many Benefits of Exercise When Pregnant

Women often wonder if they should exercise during pregnancy, or start a new routine when they find out they are pregnant. We look at the best reasons for staying fit when you're expecting.

To exercise or not to exercise

"Can I use the gym if I'm pregnant?"

"Can I go running during pregnancy?"

These are very common questions and for most women, the answer is quite simple: YES!

Of course, everyone is different and it is important to talk to your doctor about how much exercise is good for your situation.

Nonetheless maintaining a level of fitness is important for every mother-to-be. With the help of maternity activewear specialist FittaMamma we look at some of the reasons why women should stay as fit as possible while pregnant. The short version? Even a modest amount of exercise each day can help relieve pregnancy niggles such as backache and swollen ankles. Exercise will increase your energy, help you to sleep better and can lift your mood.

Gain more energy

If you're struggling with tiredness during pregnancy then regular exercise will actually give you more energy!

Exercise strengthens your cardiovascular system, increasing your supplies of oxygen and resulting in increased energy levels, meaning that you won't tire as easily. What's more, if your muscles are strong and toned then they'll need less energy to complete any activity. You'll feel less tired and better able to cope - especially if you continue to work during your pregnancy.

Relief from pregnancy discomfort

Exercise during pregnancy strengthens and stretches muscles, helping your body to cope with aches and pains. Good posture and body awareness can help combat back-ache; improved circulation can help decrease swollen ankles and varicose veins and incorporating a weight-bearing activity into your exercise regime will help maintain bone density, avoiding loss of calcium - which can result in poor teeth, nails and hair as well as longer-term osteoporosis.

Be better prepared for the birth of your baby

Giving birth is a very physical process - you wouldn't tackle a marathon without any training! Physically fit mums tend to cope better with labour. Improved strength makes the birth process easier and women who have practised yoga during their pregnancy find the breathing and relaxation techniques helpful too. If you're used to exercising regularly the chances are your recovery period will be shorter - muscles that are toned and strong prior to pregnancy generally recover more quickly after the delivery.

Improved self-image

Although excited to be pregnant, many women struggle with seeing their body change so much throughout pregnancy especially when they are coping with a job as well as preparing for the birth of their baby. While weight gain in pregnancy is inevitable, exercise will help to keep this to a healthy level and keep your body toned as your bump gets bigger. You'll also find it easier to lose the baby weight and get your pre-pregnancy body back more quickly after you've given birth.

Lifts your mood

Exercise releases those feel-good endorphins that lift your mood, helping to combat stress and anxiety. It will also help you to sleep better ...and a good night's sleep will make you feel more alert and more positive.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists recommends a minimum of thirty minutes exercise a day, a view backed by NICE and the NHS Start4Life campaign.

To find out more about the benefits of exercise in pregnancy and safe exercise for pregnant women you'll find plenty more information on the Fittamamma website: