Pre-Natal Exercises For Healthier Pregnancy

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Being pregnant is not a reason to stop exercising.

In fact, health experts said pregnancy is high time to get moving to avoid too much weight gain, high blood pressure, body pain and a higher risk for Cesarean section.Aside from improving posture and appearance, exercising during pregnancy helps moms-to-be strengthen their muscles in preparation for labor, enhance circulation, increase flexibility and endurance to combat fatigue and relieve back pain by decreasing muscle tension.

Exercises for pregnant moms don’t have to be so rigorous. Simple but frequent movements is enough to keep the blood flowing and the muscles moving. Check out some of the expert-recommended exercises pregnant women can do to stay healthy.

1. Walking

A good activity to begin during pregnancy is walking several times a week. Walking is an inexpensive form of exercise, and it is an activity that can be readily integrated into daily schedules. Expecting moms can improve their aerobic fitness by walking on level ground at a comfortable pace, but walking at increased speeds, up and down hills or while carrying weights can raise the heart rate that will improve aerobic fitness.

2. Stretching

There are also a number of basic exercises that will help pregnant women increase their strength and flexibility. However, always check with a qualified prenatal exercise instructor to make sure you are doing the exercises correctly.

• To stretch your arm and upper back, raise your arms over your head, keeping your elbows straight and the palms of your hands facing one another. Hold for at least 20 seconds before lowering your arms to your sides while keeping your upper back straight. Then, bring the backs of your hands together as far as you can behind your back and stretch.

• Stretch your calves if you’re bothered with leg cramps at night. Start this exercise by leaning against a wall or a firm surface. Reach one leg out behind you, but keep your heel on the floor. Then, lean into the wall to increase the stretch of your calf. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, and repeat with each leg.

3. Pelvic Tilt

It is very important for expecting mothers because it will strengthen your abdominal and back muscles, which will decrease back strain and fatigue.

• Start this exercise by lying on your back with your knees bent. Inhale through your nose and tighten your stomach and buttock muscles. Then, flatten the small of your back against the floor and allow your pelvis to tilt upward. Hold your position, and then count to five as you exhale slowly.

You can also perform the pelvic tilt while on your hands and knees or while standing upright, but do not arch your back, bulge your abdomen or push with your feet to obtain the motion.

4. Kegel Exercises

These exercises tap the muscle you use to stop and start the flow of urine.  By exercising this muscle, pregnant women can prevent hemorrhoids, support the growing baby and assist during and after labor.

• Locate this muscle by stopping the flow of urine a few times, but don’t exercise the muscle this way as it may lead to a urinary tract infection. Squeeze the muscle for five seconds, and then relax for another five before squeezing again. At first, do 10 five-second squeezes three times a day and work your way to 100 Kegels each day.

5. Squatting

It prepares expectant mothers for squatting during the pushing stage of labor. Start by moving to a squatting position with knees over your toes. Keep your heels on the floor, and feel the stretch in the back of your thighs. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, and then gradually increase the time to 60 to 90 seconds. Remember to relax your head and arms throughout this exercise.

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