So you’re tired, achy, and feel like you have absolutely no energy left. Why in the world would you want to workout?
Get Up and Exercise!
There are countless benefits to working out while you are pregnant, but here are my top 8 reasons why you should prioritize working out:
1. It helps eliminate or reduce pregnancy related aches and pains
Pregnancy pain is so common. I actually don’t know a single person who flew through their pregnancy without experiencing pregnancy back pain, neck pain, headaches, round ligament pain, stiffness, constipation or swelling. It’s just going to happen. You can’t expect your body to take on the additional weight gain of a pregnancy, as well as the weight shift, and not have some challenges with it.
Sadly, without the proper resources at their fingertips, many women end up resorting to pain relief medications and even opioids. (See my post where I write about the increase in pain medication use in pregnant women - 10 Reasons why 5MinuteBack Pregnancy is the Best Pregnancy Fitness Program Out There).
But there is hope and it doesn’t depend on medication. It’s exercise - plain and simple! One of the major problems of our society is that we have become sedentary. Instead of walking, we hop in our car and drive to the store, we sit at a desk for 8 hours at a time with only brief breaks to go to the bathroom, and we relax by sitting in front of the TV rather than getting out and moving. Let’s be honest with ourselves, we spend more time on our bottoms than we do walking around on our feet. But our bodies work better when we move – we are made to move.
That’s why one of the primary recommendations that you hear during pregnancy is to just get out and walk. It helps keep your body healthy, your muscles toned and your heart strong. So get up and exercise, even if it is only walking. You need to move, and with movement comes relief for all of those pregnancy related aches and pains.
2. Gives you more energy, reduces fatigue and helps you sleep better
Working out helps keep your heart in shape. It increases your blood flow, heart rate and gets your body to release more endorphins. This, in turn, gives you more endurance during the day so that you aren’t exhausted (Everyday Health).
Exercise also helps you get a more restful sleep. Again, this helps you feel more energized during the day and fight off that pregnancy fatigue. The Journal of Sleep Research actually found that getting the recommended amount of exercise for an adult (150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise) in a week significantly reduced insomnia and improved participants’ mood (Everyday Health).
3. Decreases stress
We all know that long-term stress isn’t healthy. However, more info is coming to light that says that it can be even worse for pregnant women. Several studies have recently been published that reveal how stress and anxiety during pregnancy, and even before, can cause more problems for your baby than originally believed (American Psychological Association). The APA’s article, The Consequences of Stress During Pregnancy, notes that research has shown that women suffering from high amounts of stress, even before conceiving, often went on to have babies with lower birth rates. It also discussed how women who believed they had depressive symptoms after their first child were more likely to have more depressive symptoms after their second, solely based on their own perception of the stress that they had experienced. The article goes on to reveal that early delivery could be linked to a mother’s stress levels before and during pregnancy. The moral of the story, chronic stress is not good for pregnant women.
Yes, becoming a mom, or adding to your family, can be a very stressful event. There is so much to plan for, especially if this is your first. You have to make sure that the nursery is ready, have a plan for the delivery, make ALL of those doctor appointments and hope for good results from the endless barrage of medical tests. You have to research and shop for all of the perfect baby equipment and clothes. And not to mention, making sure that your finances are ready to take on the new baby. Not trying to stress you out or anything, but becoming a parent can be a lot!
So what can you do to reduce or eliminate your stress? You can Google this question and find dozens of fantastic ideas about ways to calm your mind and body however, exercises is the one that really stands out to me. Not only can exercise reduce your stress, but it has countless other benefits during pregnancy (as you’ll see from the rest of this list). So why not give it a try?
4. Helps you feel more confident, sexy and strong
With a constantly changing body, it can be so incredibly difficult to be happy with your body. Pregnancy not only brings on weight in the belly, but, at least in my case, in my arms and legs and even my face.
I will admit, during my last pregnancy I really did struggle with loving my body sometimes. Especially near the end, when the baby was growing quickly and I was watching the scale steadily climb, I would cringe when I looked in the mirror. Even though I knew that this was a healthy weight gain and important for the baby and myself, it was hard to accept.
However, by getting into a regular workout routine from the start of this pregnancy, I have been much happier with my body. I’m proud of how I look. Yes, I’m gaining weight all over, but it feels much more controlled and I know that a lot of it is muscle, and well deserved at that. I now feel much more confidant when I throw on a dress to go out. I no longer think about hiding my body under those terrible maternity outfits. I must even be exuding this confidence because I am constantly being complimented on how strong and healthy I am looking with this pregnancy. It feels great!
5. Improves your mood and happiness
Exercise increases your body’s release of endorphins, hormones that help you feel happiness and joy (Everyday Health). Please tell me you have experienced this feeling. You’ve finished working out and you feel like you are ready to take on the world. All of those little problems that you were worried about just don’t seem so daunting any more. This is the same for pregnancy. By working out, you are helping yourself both mentally and physically. If you can manage to make that workout routine something that you do on a regular basis, you can really help stabilize some of the mood swings that come with pregnancy.
6. Helps you with pregnancy related swelling
As all of you moms out there know, swelling is inevitable during pregnancy – especially during the 3rdtrimester. However, there is a great way to reduce some of that swelling and all it takes is a little exercise. By getting your heart pumping, your circulatory system starts functioning better and helps clear out some of the swelling (Fit Pregnancy).
7. Helps prepare your body for labor and delivery
In the words of my doula, “labor is a marathon, not a sprint.” And just like for any marathon, you have to train for it. I’m not talking about getting in a walk or two within the last few days before you’re due, but you really need to get out there and exercise on a regular basis.
Even in the best situations, labor and delivery are strenuous on women’s bodies. But the good news is that we are made to do it. We just need to give ourselves the best chance we can - and this requires a commitment of time and energy. Working out will help keep your body toned and your heart healthy so that when the time comes, your body is physically prepared to take on the challenges of labor and delivery as best it can.
I’m not guaranteeing that it will make your labor easier, but it sure did make a huge difference in mine. If you are unfamiliar with my labor and delivery with my first child, let’s just say it was very long. I had been hoping for a natural child birth, but one and a half weeks after my due date, my doctor informed me that we would have to speed things along. After using 2 different induction methods and Pitocin I still hadn’t progressed enough. I was given the option between an epidural and a C section. Lucky for me, the epidural was enough, and after 36 hours of labor, we were blessed with the most wonderful little boy. I know that if I hadn’t been working out on a regular basis, I wouldn’t have been able to handle the pain and fatigue of a 36 hour labor – it just isn’t possible.
8. Helps speed up your recovery after birth and get your pre-pregnancy body back faster
Exercising during pregnancy will also help you recover faster after birth and help you get your pre-pregnancy body back sooner. Just like preparing for the marathon of labor and delivery, the same preparation helps your body make a comeback after your baby is born.
In my case, only 6 weeks after giving birth to my son, I was back at my 5MinuteBack Pregnancy exercises and felt fantastic! I was out hiking and jogging again, and feeling like myself (aside from being SUPER tired J). All that hard work was worth it!
My 5MinuteBack Pregnancy Challenge Update
I have been doing great these last few weeks keeping up with my 5MinuteBack Pregnancy exercise program. Most days I am able to do my full routine, and if I can’t, I’ve been able to fit in the quick 5Minute Routine. On top of that, I have been eating really well. I’ve been making every effort I can to avoid processed foods and refined sugars, as well as eating a lot of veggies and protein.
My body is feeling great. I feel strong and healthy and I’m loving my body. All of this exercise is really giving me the confidence in myself and my body that I didn’t get with my last pregnancy. On top of that, I haven’t been experiencing any of this weeks pregnancy symptoms. According to the Bump, around week 20 many women may be experiencing leg cramps, heartburn and indigestion, swelling and shortness of breath. Just looking at this list reassures me that by exercising and eating well you really can improve your pregnancy!