The Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy
Exercise during pregnancy benefits both mother and child, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. Since exercise increases fitness, it is associated with healthier babies, limited discomfort and weight gain, and an easier labor. Exercise during pregnancy also provides many psychological benefits.
Reduced Physical Discomfort
When you are pregnant, the discomfort of backache, constipation, fatigue, and swelling may become a nuisance. Being active during your pregnancy can reduce the physical pain you experience. Exercising improves circulation, which leads to reduced swelling and better nutrient digestion, absorption, and utilization. In addition, good circulation will lessen your risk of developing varicose veins.
Decreased labor length
While labor length is always variable, research has shown that women who exercise often at moderate to high intensity have labors that are 1/3 shorter than the deliveries of women who don't exercise. Dr. James Clapp, author of Exercising through Your Pregnancy ,has pioneered studies showing that exercise leads to an easier pregnancy and delivery. His study of 500 pregnant women established that pregnant women who exercised found time spent in labor was shortened by one third, with 65% of women delivering in four hours or less.
Exercise provides you with a great stress release. The endorphins released during exercise provide positive psychological effects, reducing stress and improving your mood, says Molly Kimball, registered dietitian and board certified specialist in sports dietetics. Exercise can also improve your self-image and help you sleep better.
When you are nauseated and fatigued it is normal to lack the motivation and drive to exercise. Gradually beginning an exercise program is likely to improve these symptoms. Exercising boosts your energy and improves endurance, which may help you manage pain during labor.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Committee on Obstetric Practice recommends 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise per day for pregnant women. Nonetheless, consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.