Whether this is your first pregnancy, or you’ve been here before, staying active (or taking up gentle exercise for the first time in a while) can be highly beneficial both physically and mentally. In particular, walking is a moderate, aerobic and low impact activity that’s safe and effective and can be modified throughout the different stages of your pregnancy.
In this article, we explore the various benefits of walking while pregnant, as well best practice guidelines.
The Benefits of Walking During Pregnancy
Whether you’re in the early stages of pregnancy or you’re further along the journey and experiencing any number of physical symptoms that can arise while growing a human in your belly, exercising and moving your body might not always seem like a good idea. However, staying active and keeping your fitness up can really pay off – now, and in the long run.
Some of the benefits of walking while pregnant include:
…Not mention, walking is an activity that’s rather easy to fit into your daily schedule. Whether it’s squeezing a brisk walk in between meetings or during your lunch break, while you’re out running errands, or to either start or end your day, walking is one of the less restrictive activities as you’re not limited to a specific time or place. Best of all, walking is free!
How Often Should You Be Walking While Pregnant?
Because walking is a low impact activity, the general rule of thumb is that you can do it daily. Just 30 minutes of brisk walking should unlock the above-mentioned benefits – totally do-able, right? If you’re new to regular exercise, it might be a good idea to start off slowly and then build your way up to longer walks. Take note of how you feel and get in touch with your doctor if anything feels ‘off’
As you start walking in the first trimester, you may have morning sickness or feel more tired than usual. You may also be starting exercise for the first time. As such, go slowly and split your exercise into shorter walks. Alternatively, you can build up from a few minutes each day until you’re ready for a full 30 minutes.
If there’s no sickness to speak of, you’re feeling full of energy, and you’ve always been an active person, then of course, continue working with the fitness level you’ve already obtained.
Remember to take a water bottle out with you, wear layers of clothing so that you can peel back as you gradually build heat, and ensure your trainers are comfortable.
In your second trimester, you might notice that you have some more energy in the tank than you did in your first trimester, but just make sure that you don’t over-do it. Walk at a brisk pace, but you should be able to carry a conversation and not be too out of breath.
Remember to stretch before and after your walks to maintain mobility and keep stiffness at bay.
In your third trimester, your growing belly might be affecting your balance. You could also potentially experience dizziness and/or physical clumsiness due to fatigue. As such, do your best to follow your body’s cues and ease up on your walking routine if necessary.
If possible, stick to clear and relatively flat footpaths to avoid any hazards that could result in tripping or falling.
Your Body, Your Pregnancy
Throughout your pregnancy, only you know what it feels like to be in your body. Therefore, you are your own best guide on all the points mentioned in this article. If you have any questions or concerns about being active while pregnant, be sure to consult with your GP and midwife.