Benefits of exercising during pregnancy

According to Lander, there are numerous benefits to both mother and child. These include:
  • Improved maternal fitness.
  • Facilitation of labour - exercise strengthens the muscles needed for labour and delivery, reduces complications and the duration of the active stage of labour.
  • Combats lower back pain caused by increased lordosis, increased weight of the uterus, loss of abdominal strength and tone, and reduces laxity of the ligaments of the pelvic and SI joints.
  • Decreases post partum belly.
  • Decreases incidence of constipation, reduces bloating, swelling, backaches and improves posture.
  • Improves circulation and therefore reduces the chance of varicose veins.
  • Reduces the risk of developing gestational diabetes.
  • Speeds up recovery and return to pre-pregnancy weight after birth.
  • Gives moms a positive sense of well-being and improves self-image.

“Studies have shown that women who exercise regularly during pregnancy have healthier babies, and shorter labours. Exercise during pregnancy has also been associated with a lower mean hospital stay compared to a control group (sedentary pregnant women),” she says.

The benefits of exercise during pregnancy are numerous to both mother and child. Lander outlines some of the benefits to each:

  • Enhanced psychological well being
  • Reduced postpartum belly
  • Greater energy reserve
  • More rapid return to pre-pregnancy weight, strength and flexibility levels
  • Improved aerobic and muscular fitness
  • Stabilisation exercises help to regain strength of deep stabilizing muscles, while also reducing “postpartum” belly and any lingering back pain from pregnancy
  • Improve fitness
  • Greater ability to handle the discomforts of pregnancy and labour, exercise strengthens muscles needed for labour and delivery
  • Easier to get back into shape and regain your normal weight after pregnancy
  • Decreases incidence of constipation and reduces bloating, swelling, backaches and improves posture
  • Improve circulation and therefore reduces the chance of varicose veins
  • Less tired and sleep better
  • Give a positive sense of well being
  • In one retrospective survey elite athletes had shorter mean labours, frequency of toxaemia, caesareans and threatened abortions than sedentary controls. Therefore, there was a lower incidence of complications with exercise during pregnancy.
  • Decreased fat gain (leaner at 5yrs of age)
  • Improved stress tolerance
  • Enhanced foetoplacental growth
  • Advanced neurobehavioural maturation and better neurodevelopmental outcome
  • IQ & Oral language tests at 5yrs better than non exercisers (Clapp, JF, 1996) presumed as a result of increased  Fetal cerebral blood flow
  • Greater ability to quiet themselves and orientate themselves better 5 days after birth (Clapp J, Am J Ob Gyn, 1999)
What benefits did you find when exercising while you were pregnant?

Read more on exercising while pregnant:

Exercising for two

Exercise guidelines for moms-to-be

Exercises you should do during pregnancy

Exercise guidelines: what you need to know

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