February 15·4 min read

Seven reasons to stay active during pregnancy

You’ve already got leggings on anyway.

Pregnancy is nine months filled with joy, change, and most of all, uncertainty. There’s a lot of conflicting answers out there about what to do or not do while you’re expecting, making it easy to second-guess even the smallest choices. Information about how — or even if — you should exercise as an expectant mother is no exception. 

Let’s clear this up first: yes, it is safe to exercise during pregnancy.  The American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology (ACOG) recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week for pregnant women.  In fact, it’s not just safe, it’s beneficial. Following an exercise regimen can help your mind and body navigate all of the changes happening during this season of transformation. From coping with hormal changes to getting back on your feet after childbirth, let’s take a closer look at the seven biggest reasons for staying fit over these nine special months. 

1. More movement, fewer complications.

Every pregnancy has its unique challenges, and so much of the experience is beyond your control. An exercise regimen can’t eradicate the possibility of any complications, but it can potentially make for a smoother pregnancy. According to ACOG, a regular exercise routine decreases your risk for gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and gestational hypertension. It also may reduce the likelihood you’ll need to deliver via c-section (unless that’s already the plan), or experience excess weight gain. For some expectant moms who want to try and control everything they can control, this can be reason enough to get moving — but it’s just the beginning. 

2. Exercise can end your edema struggles.

Regular aerobic exercise is great for your heart and circulatory system at any stage of life. It’s especially invaluable during pregnancy, as your uterus increases the pressure on your veins and makes it more difficult for blood to circulate throughout your body. That can lead to edema, an uncomfortable swelling in your calves, ankles, and feet. 

When stagnant fluid leads to swelling, the best way to fight back is to get moving. Go for a walk, stationary bike, or swim laps in a pool. By improving your heart’s ability to pump blood and your circulatory systems’ ability to transport it through your body, exercise keeps stagnant fluids from accumulating and creating swelling. And if you’re looking to address any varicose veins, low-impact exercise is an effective prescription.

3. Strength train away those aches and pains.

It’s not a perfect analogy, but pregnancy is kind of like wearing an irremovable weight vest that gets progressively heavier over the course of nine months. When you look at it that way, it’s no wonder that lower back pain, pelvic discomfort, and sore feet are par for the course. While some pains won’t subside until after delivery, it’s entirely possible to alleviate many of those day-to-day discomforts through exercise, especially a light strength training regimen led by an experienced prenatal coach.

By working with a trainer who can help you improve your movement patterns and build strength, your body can adjust to pregnancy’s added weight and postural changes. In addition to a little strength training, lighter, low-impact movement like walking, stretching, and correcting your posture can help you lighten the burden of carrying around your little bundle of joy. 

4. Move your way off the emotional rollercoaster.

It’s no secret that pregnancy causes your hormones to go haywire. At any point before or after childbirth, it’s completely normal to feel moody, sluggish, overwhelmed, or all three of those things at once. The good news? Exercise releases plenty of endorphins, the feel-good hormone that can help even things out by providing much-needed relief from anxiety and stress. Even just a walk to clear your head can improve your overall mood and redirect your energy. Give it a try and see how making time for a little self-care can go a long way. 

5. Stay active to sleep better.

If you’re desperate for a good night’s sleep as you enter your third trimester, buying one of those giant body pillows isn’t your only option. According to a meta-analysis of various scientific studies, exercise has a positive impact on sleep during pregnancy. The same endorphins that improve your mood during the day can also play a positive role at bedtime, alleviating the stress and anxiety that can swim through your mind once your head hits the pillow. It also helps regulate your energy so you aren’t too pepped up before bed, especially if you’re a morning exerciser.  

6. Power up for delivery and beyond. 

Just as nothing can guarantee a complication-free pregnancy, there’s also no way to guarantee an easy delivery. With that said, regular exercise is key to unlocking stamina and strength, both of which you’ll need in abundance during (and after) labor. Your ability to recover from childbirth depends on many factors, but good circulation (see benefit #2), which promotes tissue recovery, is definitely one of them. 

Staying active during pregnancy is also useful when it comes to transitioning from that postpartum period back into everyday life. You absolutely deserve some time to rest and recuperate after childbirth, and should come back to exercise only when you and your OBGYN feel you’re ready. But if your goal as a new mom is to get moving again, keeping up with exercise during pregnancy will give you a definite head start. 

7. Exercise = empowerment. 

With all of its changes, pregnancy can mess with your self-image. Though there are many parts of the journey that one must accept rather than change, fitness can be a powerful way to take control of your day-to-day experience. In addition to everything else you’ve read about above, staying active can help you feel comfortable in your own skin, and bestow the confidence you need to face the challenges and changes of motherhood head on.  

With Future, any expectant mom can access dedicated prenatal and postpartum coaching that puts life-changing expertise and encouragement at their fingertips. No matter your due date, your Future coach will customize workouts to your circumstances and goals and provide dedicated one-on-one guidance to ensure you’re exercising safely. Even when you’re feeling lost or overwhelmed, they’ll help you realize that you’re so much stronger than you think. 

An extra benefit of moving through pregnancy with Future is the chance to get dedicated coaching for less. Save $130 and pay just $19 for your first month of remote prenatal personal training. There’s no long-term commitments, and you can cancel any time. Take a quick survey to find the prenatal coach who has what it takes to move you successfully and safely through every trimester and all the phases of life to come. 

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