Why should you exercise during pregnancy? Chances are, your back is aching, your feet are swelling, you are bloated, and sleep is becoming more of a luxury than a daily routine. With all of these discomforts that often accompany pregnancy, exercising probably sounds like the last thing you want to do be doing right now. However, exercise during pregnancy can actually help reduce all of these symptoms and provides many health benefits for both you and baby! Some of these benefits include: reduced aching and swelling, sounder sleep, boosted energy, and improved posture. In addition, exercise during pregnancy greatly reduces the likelihood of many potential complications including: gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and cesarean deliveries. Want even more motivation? Exercising during pregnancy may also prepare your body for a faster delivery and quicker postpartum recovery! If you’re ready to start exercising for a fit and healthy pregnancy, Juna’s got you covered. Juna has exercise guides with safe pregnancy workouts designed to grow with you throughout your pregnancy. Check out our general guide to exercising while pregnant out below!
How much should I exercise?
How much should you actually exercise while you are pregnant? The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggests that expecting mothers should aim for 20-30 minutes or more of moderate exercise per day and that they should exercise most/all days of the week. If this sounds like an overwhelming exercise goal, especially if your back aching and foot swelling is hitting hard, don’t worry. There are many safe and easy exercises with varying intensities that you can do to get your workout minutes in! We at Juna have made a list of safe exercises for you below so you can keep your exercise schedule on track to help keep both you and baby healthy. For specific workout demonstrations, check out Juna’s app which has pregnancy workouts that include strength training, barre/Pilates, cardio, and pregnancy safe core training. Safe Workouts for Pregnant Women Walking, Jogging, Running: Taking walks/light runs around the neighborhood or on the treadmill is a great way to exercise while pregnant. Just make sure you listen to your body and slow down when you feel fatigued or over-tired. Avoid uneven surfaces, like running on trails, to prevent risk of falling. Juna tip: If a 30 minute walk/run is too much for you, try breaking up your walks/runs into 10 minute intervals.
- Strength Training: Who says you can’t build muscle while you are pregnant? Just make sure you take safe precautions. Try switching to a lighter weight and increase your reps, or try a machine to help guide your movements to avoid injury. The workouts in the Juna app focus on high reps and low weight so that you can fatigue your muscles without causing injury.
- Swimming: Swimming is one of the best workouts you can do while you are pregnant! Swimming helps protect your loosened ligaments and joints that have a greater risk of injury during exercising on land. Furthermore, baby floats while you are submerged in water–a welcomed break from all that extra weight while baby is growing! Be sure to slowly step into the pool rather than jumping in. Baby can’t handle the quick change in pressure!
- Yoga/Pilates, Modified: Training your core muscles is extremely beneficial during pregnancy, especially for a healthy labor and avoiding health issues, such as diastasis recti. Training your core muscles and retaining your flexibility may contribute to an easier delivery and quicker postpartum recovery. Juna recommends that you get in 30 minutes of pilates workouts per week. To help you get in those minutes, we have made a 30 minute Barre/Pilates inspired class just for pregnant mamas in the app.
- Racquet Sports–Racquet Sports is a great way to get your cardio workout in while having fun! Proceed with caution as racquet sports have a higher risk of falling or injury than the other exercises.
- Chores: Yep, that’s right, you can get in your exercise minutes just by doing chores! This includes vacuuming, sweeping, light yard work. Way to kill two birds with one stone!
What types of exercise should I avoid?
While exercising is proven to be extremely beneficial to expecting mothers, there are certain workouts that you should absolutely avoid as they can harm both you and baby. Find the list of exercises to avoid while pregnant below to protect you and baby.
Exercises to avoid while pregnant:
- Contact Sports (i.e. soccer, basketball, boxing)
- Activities with great risk of falling (i.e. horseback riding, ice skating, skiing, surfing, gymnastics, etc.)
- Hot yoga/pilates
- Scuba Diving
What Are The Risks Of Exercising While Pregnant?
There are certain risks that come with exercising while pregnant. However, many of these risks can be avoided with proper precautions and nutrition. Consult your doctor concerning the risks of exercising while pregnant, which you will find in the list below. Keep reading for Juna’s recommendations to reduce the risks of exercising while pregnant.
Risks of Exercising While Pregnant
- Premature contractions: Exercising stimulates hormones that can potentially induce premature contractions.
- Increased fetal glucose levels: Increased glucose consumption from working muscles could increase fetal glucose levels beyond their normal state.
- Oxygen reduction to the placental site: Exercise redistributes blood from internal organs to skeletal muscle, which causes a significant transient reduction in oxygen and nutrient delivery to the placental site.
- Overheating: Overheating can damage maternal thermoregulation, which moderates the mother’s internal temperature to ensure that baby can grow properly. Avoiding overheating by abstaining from vigorous workouts is extremely important, especially during the first trimester.
How to Reduce the Potential Risks Of Working Out While Pregnant?
Many of these risks to exercising while pregnant can be avoided or reduced by simply choosing the right exercises and getting proper nutrition. See Juna’s tips below to avoid these risks so that you can have the healthiest pregnancy possible. Remember to always consult your doctor concerning these risks.
Recommendations To Reduce Potential Risks Of Exercising While Pregnant
- Get in the proper nutrition: Consuming the right nutrition for you and baby helps regulate fetal glucose levels and ensures that baby is getting in all the vital nutrients to grow properly. The Juna app has a weekly nutrition guide to help you get the right nutrition during each stage of your pregnancy journey for you and baby.
- Proper Breathing: Proper breathing during exercising helps regulate the oxygen flow throughout your circulatory system, which delivers oxygen to the placental site. Make sure you are breathing regularly throughout your entire workout to avoid oxygen deprivation to both you and baby. It also prevents overheating, which could damage your maternal thermoregulation. Juna tip: the “talking test” is a great way to regulate proper breathing and avoid overheating. If you have trouble talking during an exercise, slow down, and focus on your breathing! Additionally, holding your breath during exercise puts added stress on your pelvic floor. It’s incredibly important to make sure that you are breathing for this purpose too.
- Avoid Vigorous Workouts: There is a reason why hot yoga/hot pilates is listed under the exercises to avoid while you are pregnant. Workouts that potentially cause overheating, which challenges your maternal thermoregulation, are harmful for both you and baby. Avoiding these vigorous workouts and listening to your body is the best way of preventing the risk of overheating. Remember the talking test! This is a great way to prevent overheating.
Other Tips On Having a Fit Pregnancy
- Start a workout group with other expecting mamas: Accountability is one of the best motivations to exercise! Working out with other pregnant mamas is a great way to have fun while exercising, to keep you accountable, and to share your pregnancy experience with other women who are going through the same incredible journey. To connect with other Juna mamas and to share your exercising tips, join the Juna Moms facebook group.
- Join the Juna App for healthy meal plans: The Juna App is your go-to place for healthy meal and nutrition plans for you and your baby! Have fun by meal-planning, or join a group to meal prep and share recipes with other expecting mommas. It is a easy and fun way to know other expecting mommas and to ensure you all are getting the proper nutrition for your pregnancy. Get the Juna App for great pregnancy meal and nutrition guides.
- Start a Schedule: You are much more likely to attain your exercise and nutrition goals if you plan them into a regular schedule. Try joining a workout or meal-prep group for accountability and to make it easier for you to schedule in your workout and nutrition. The Juna app has made it easy for you to make a workout and nutrition plan that is best for you and your pregnancy journey. For safe pregnancy workouts and easy-to-follow nutrition guides, download the Juna App.