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10 Best Exercises for Pregnant Women: Benefits, Safety Advice and more

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“It is important to incorporate exercise in your daily routine during your pregnancy”, says everyone.

But with the swelling bulge, not only are your exercise choices limited as compared to before, it is also crucial to choose the right type of exercise to keep both you and baby safe and healthy during your workout.

We all know how exercise greatly benefits both mother and baby, but here begs the question, ‘What are the types of exercises that pregnant mothers should do in order to reap the most benefits?’

Below are some of the exercises (with their benefits) that every mummy-to-be should not hesitate to take up for that happy and healthy pregnancy. 

1. Swimming

Swimming brings with it a multitude of benefits for everyone but especially for pregnant mothers. Having that added weight throughout the course of your pregnancy, it comes as no surprise that many pregnant mothers experience swelling in the legs.

This is where swimming comes to your aid. Not only does swimming keep you fit (as it works many muscle groups at a go), it helps ease the tension in the lower part of your body.

As for the swimming strokes, go for breaststroke especially in the later stage of pregnancy as breaststroke promotes good posture while strengthening your back and chest muscles.

Do try to avoid backstroke as this may increase the pressure on the main vessel in the abdomen.

Benefits of Swimming:

  1. Swimming allows a wider range of motion with less joint pressure.
  2. Strengthen leg and buttock muscles.
  3. The buoyancy of the water of the water allows you to do exercise your legs, arms and shoulders without putting too much strain on your joints.

Safety advice for Swimming:

  1. Avoid strenuous movements such as jumping or diving.
  2. Perform a stroke that feels comfortable and natural without any strain on your body.
  3. Do not swim in heated pools to avoid increase in your body temperature.


2. Brisk Walking

Brisk walking, in between a jog and a walk, does wonders for pregnant mothers and you are promised a wide range of benefits from this relatively easy workout. Why?

Well, brisk walking not only gives your heart and lungs a good workout, it is also easy on your knees and your ankles (which they will thank you immensely).

Besides, you can brisk walk anytime, anywhere. Around the neighbourhood or even at the park, brisk walking will ensure that you work up a sweat while keeping both baby and mother safe and healthy. 

Benefits of Brisk Walking:

  1. Walking in general alleviates the risk of developing complications during pregnancy, labor and childbirth.
  2. This reduces the chance of developing gestational diabetes.
  3. Helps you maintain a healthy weight throughout your pregnancy.

Safety advice for Brisk Walking:

  1. Avoid walking under the heat of the sun. It is best to do it in the morning.
  2. Never overdo the exercise. Walking at least three times a week is recommended.
  3. Start with a 10 to 15 minutes brisk walk, and then just increase your walk by at least 5 minutes every other day.


3. Stationary Cycling

One of the safest forms of exercise that greatly benefits pregnant women is stationary cycling. This exercise can increase your heart rate with less joint stress.

Of course, stationary bike equipment reduces the chances of falling, unlike your traditional cycling, which makes it a more pregnancy-friendly exercise.

To top things off, stationary cycling helps to improve your blood circulation which will ultimately keep things lighter and less strenuous in your back area.

With the amount of endorphins released from this exercise, this is going to have a positive impact on both your mood as well as energy levels! 

Benefits of Stationary Cycling:

  1. Indoor or stationary cycling helps improve your endurance and breathing – which are essential during delivery.
  2. This reduces the chance of developing high blood pressure and gestational diabetes.
  3. Cycling and walking can help increase oxygen levels in your body that is essential for both you and  your developing baby.

Safety advice for Stationary Cycling:

  1. Have someone to help you get on the bike safely.
  2. Do not over stress your body. Perform this routine for about 10 to 15 minutes, at least two or three times per week only.
  3. Start with a 10 to 15 minutes brisk walk, and then just increase your walk by at least 5 minutes every other day.
  4. Take note that as the pregnancy progresses, making use of higher handlebars can provide greater comfort.


4. Stair Climbers (Gym Machine)

Stair climbers sound tedious and boring? Well, the truth is, the stairs climbers machine at the gym is probably one of the best cardiovascular exercises for pregnancy.

Again, this exercise gives your heart and lungs that healthy boost while helping you keep fit and healthy.

You would realise that as you progress in your pregnancy, stair climbers may seem more challenging than before.

That is completely understandable considering the added weight with your growing baby.

It is thus crucial that the incline of the stairs and speed should be adjusted accordingly to what feels most comfortable to you.

Remember, never overdo it! 

Benefits of Stair Climbers:

  1. Stair climbers help with cardiovascular health. Keeping your heart strong and improving the flow of oxygen throughout your body for both you and baby. 
  2. This exercise puts less stress on your joints.
  3. Stair climbers also improve your balance which is crucial as your belly swells during the course of your pregnancy.

Safety advice for Stair Climbers:

  1. Be extra careful in the later stages of pregnancy because you and your baby’s combined weight can cause strain on your ankles and leg. Avoid doing this if it becomes uncomfortable for you.
  2. Make sure to hold on the handrail of the stairs to avoid falling or sliding down.


5. Tai Chi

We all think Tai Chi to be an exercise associated with the elderly. But, we cannot be further from the truth.

In fact, Tai Chi is an exercise that many pregnant mothers will thoroughly benefit from. Tai Chi, being a combination of meditation and slow movements, is just the right exercise for pregnant mothers.

Not only does it help with calming your anxiety and stress, the slow movement reduces the risk of injury.

Don’t be fooled by this seemingly slow-paced exercise though, because you will find yourself working up a good sweat at the end of the session but with a calmer and relaxed soul.  

Benefits of Tai Chi:

  1. Tai Chi helps with the strengthening of your muscles.
  2. It also reduces stress and anxiety in your mind and soul.
  3. Tai Chi reduces back pain, swelling and lowers the risk of high blood

Safety advice for Tai Chi:

  1. Be cautious of poses that involve balance.
  2. Do not overstretch and listen to your body.


6. Yoga

Yoga comes in right at the top when we talk about prenatal exercises.

With Yoga being synonymous to prenatal exercises, it is no wonder prenatal yoga classes are sprouting everywhere in Singapore.

And yes, there is a reason (in fact, many reasons) why yoga is widely acclaimed by many pregnant mothers.

Read more: 15 prenatal yoga poses that will greatly benefit your pregnancy

It’s simply because prenatal yoga brings about a tremendous number of benefits to pregnant mothers.

From muscle strengthening, alleviating aches to preparing pregnant mothers for delivery, yoga is the exercise that seems to do it for many pregnant mothers.

What’s not to love?

Benefits of Yoga:

  1. Yoga increases blood circulation and relaxation is enhanced throughout your body.
  2. Yoga helps to stretch and strengthen many muscle groups in your body.
  3. Yoga helps to reduce anxiety and stress during pregnancy.
  4. Yoga helps prepare for labour.

Safety advice for Yoga: 

  1. It is important not to overstretch to prevent overexertion of your body.
  2. Be extra cautious for stretches that require you to balance.
  3. Only engage in poses that are within your capacity and are comfortable with.


7. Pilates

Pilates, yoga’s other popular cousin in the list of popular prenatal exercises, is another exercise that many pregnant mothers engage in during pregnancy.

Unlike yoga which works on improving the flexibility of your body, pilates focuses on relaxing muscles which are tense.

As such, pilates is one of the most beneficial exercises to engage in especially during pregnancy since much of your muscles are achy and tense.

You may use yoga and pilates hand in hand so that your body receives the best of both worlds.  

Benefits of Pilates:

  1. Maintains flexibility and proper body posture.
  2. Improves blood and oxygen circulation.
  3. Strengthen the muscles of your body.
  4. Helps you stay relaxed and calm which are necessary during labor.
  5. Teaches you proper breathing technique in preparation for labor and delivery.

Safety Advice for Pilates:

  1. Before attending a yoga or Pilates session, ask for your doctor’s approval.
  2. Do not overstretch your body to avoid sprain or injury.
  3. Discontinue the exercise if you notice spotting or bleeding.


8. Low-Impact Aerobics

Aerobics have always been known for strengthening the cardio-respiratory system and muscles in our body and this is why low-impact aerobics is an exercise pregnant mothers should consider picking up.

Of course, with a growing bump, this means you should avoid extreme or high-intensity workouts.

Always choose the lower impact aerobic exercises instead of the high impact ones when during your aerobics at home.

An example would be to march instead of doing high knee lifts or a lunge instead of a jump lunge. 

Benefits of Low-Impact Aerobics:

  1. This helps maintain balance and reduces the risk of muscles weakening, especially on the pelvic floor.
  2. It does not give too much stress on your legs, ankles and joints.
  3. Low-impact exercise improves your pelvic muscles which prevents you from urine leakage.

Safety Advice for Low-Impact Aerobics:

  1. Do not perform high kicks, jumping and leaps.
  2. Never start performing any routine if you are experiencing pain.
  3. If you think you have a sensitive pregnancy, always ask your doctor’s advice.


9. Weightlifting

‘Weightlifting when I’m pregnant? Are you serious?’

Yeap, we are serious!

In fact, do you know that if you’re an expecting woman, weightlifting is one of the better options to maintain your muscle tone.

Of course, never turn your weightlifting session into one that’s recommended for the Hulk, instead, lift lighter weights but increase the number of reps to compensate for the reduced load.

Machines are recommended since they reduce the chances of moving in a wider range of motion. 

Benefits of Weightlifting:

  1. Improves blood and oxygen circulation.
  2. Improves overall physical stamina.
  3. Minimizes muscle discomfort during pregnancy.

Safety advice for Weightlifting:

  1. Do weightlifting, as advised by your doctor and practitioner.
  2. If you never do weightlifting before pregnancy, do not perform this now. Do other exercise instead.
  3. Proper warm and stretching are necessary before you lift weights.
  4. Even if you are seasoned weight lifter, have a trainer with you as you perform the routine.


10. Barre

A more unheard of exercise but one that has just as many benefits is, Barre.

Essentially, Barre is an exercise that involves a combination of Pilates, yoga, and ballet moves.

This low to no impact exercise is excellent for strengthening your core and lower body and some mothers even swear by Barre, attributing it to lower frequencies of aches and pains experienced during their pregnancy.

Despite it being a low to no impact exercise, you will be pleased to know that this exercise can help develop flattering muscle tone during your pregnancy. (yes, you’re very welcome!)

Benefits of Barre:

  1. Helps in maintaining balance and stability.
  2. Maintains flexibility of your body.
  3. Helps you maintain a healthy weight.

Safety advice for Barre:

  1. It is recommended to update your instructor with your pregnancy progress. This update is meant to help him adjust your routine to reduce the strain on your tummy.
  2. Avoid routines that require you lie on your abdomen or lie flat on your back.
  3. Minimize ballet moves to avoid sliding.


Exercises for Pregnant Women

It is no doubt that exercise has much to offer for pregnant mothers.

In fact, it is recommended by various doctors, since exercise is known to help with both pre-delivery and post-delivery stages.

Additionally, studies have shown that babies are healthier when their mothers exercise during pregnancy.

Now that we have generated a list of 10 best exercises (with their benefits) for pregnant mothers, there is absolutely no reason for you to be a couch potato.

Start off slow with 1 or 2 exercises a week and gradually alternate the 10 different exercises into your exercise routine if you’d like.

There is no right or wrong when it comes to exercising.

Enjoy the process and have a blast! 

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