The importance of regular exercise in our lives cannot be overemphasized. Moderate intensity and safe exercises are beneficial and recommended in normal pregnancy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends at least 20 to 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise on most days of the week provided your doctor hasn’t ruled out exercise or limited your physical activities because of an existing medical condition or pregnancy complication.
Ever wondered what the benefits of exercise during pregnancy are? Here’re 11 reasons why you should exercise during pregnancy! Safe exercises during pregnancy can:

1. Reduce physical discomfort
There a lot of physical discomforts encountered during pregnancy such as backaches, fatigues, leg swelling, indigestion, bloating and constipation. Regular exercise can improve and strengthen your muscles especially the back and abdominal muscles which are necessary for bearing the weight of the growing baby as well as reduce muscular discomfort. It also improves bowel movement and relieves constipation.

2. Increase your energy and fitness
Pregnancy puts your body systems especially the circulatory system under physiological stress. Regular exercise helps your body to adapt faster and better by making the heart function better and meet the circulatory demands ensured by pregnancy. Thus with a better-functioning heart and stronger muscles, you feel stronger, fitter and engage in your daily activities with greater ease.

3. Improve your mood and self-image
Pregnancy can affect your mood and also bring down your self-image. You can even develop depression or anxiety during pregnancy. Regular exercise, on the other hand, can relieve mood and make you feel good about yourself. It also reduces the risk of gaining excess weight which may affect your self-image too.

4. Relieve stress
Pregnancy is a stressful condition both externally and internally. Internally, there’s an increased demand for resources – oxygen, nutrients, blood cells, blood circulation, etc – in the body. Externally, regular activities and chores feel more difficult. You feel more clumsy and easily stressed out.
Exercise helps relieve all of that. Firstly regular exercise helps improve your lung capacity, improves your appetite, increase production of more blood cells from your marrow as well as improve your heart function and blood circulation. In addition, exercise helps the body produce endorphins and serotonin which make you feel calmer and relaxed. It also makes you more agile by strengthening your muscles.

5. Improve your sleep
Pregnancy, especially in the later stages, makes sleeping more difficult. However, exercise has a calming effect and can make you sleep better. Not only do you fall into sleep earlier and sleep longer, but you also feel more rested when you wake up.

6. Improve your posture
Pregnancy does affect your posture and movement. Regular exercise strengthens and improves your muscles’ tone. You feel lighter and more flexible and keep better posture.

7. Prevent excess weight gain and help you keep a better shape
Regular exercise helps control your weight gain during pregnancy. It prevents excess weight gain and thus helps you keep a better shape. This has a lot of advantages both in your self-image and in your general well-being during the pregnancy.

8. Reduce the risk of pregnancy and delivery complications
Regular exercise during pregnancy helps maintain your blood pressure and glucose at normal levels. It reduces the risk of preeclampsia or hypertension in pregnancy as well as gestational diabetes. By reducing the risk of gestational diabetes, it reduces your risk of having macrosomic babies which may cause difficult delivery that leads to cesarean section.
However, if you already have these conditions, exercise may be a bad idea as it may worsen the situation. Please make sure you do not have a risky condition before commencing any exercise. Always confirm with your care provider that exercise is safe for your condition.

9. Help you prepare for child delivery
With regular exercise during pregnancy, you develop stronger and relaxed muscles including the pelvic and abdominal muscles which play a big part in the delivery process. Exercise helps you build the necessary stamina for labor. Childbirth requires strength, endurance, and resilience. Regular exercise during pregnancy helps you acquire those qualities. It follows that those that engaged in regular exercise during pregnancy have easier deliveries and record fewer cases of prolonged labor.

10. Helps you deliver healthier babies
By preventing certain pregnancy and delivery complication, exercise helps make your baby healthier because those complications would’ve definitely compromised the baby in one way or another. In addition, some animal researches are showing that exercises during pregnancy help make healthier and more intelligent babies.

11. Recover your shape faster after childbirth
Exercise helps you recover faster after delivery. With good strength, great muscle tone and less weight to lose as a result of your regular work out during pregnancy, your body recovers more easily after childbirth and can easily go back to its pre-pregnancy shape. Moreover, with the stamina and endurance, you have built during the course of the pregnancy, you can resume your workout after delivery faster than those that didn’t exercise during pregnancy. Always remember to ask your care provider how soon you can resume your exercises after delivery.

In conclusion, regular safe exercise during normal pregnancy is not only beneficial but necessary. It helps ensure normal progress of the pregnancy, your mental and physical well-being during the pregnancy, easier delivery of the baby and faster post-delivery recovery. Always discuss with your doctor to be sure exercise is right for you and also recommend the right level of exercise for your own situation.

Author's Bio: 

Emmanuel Ifeanyi Ekwomadu is a medical doctor and a writer who’s got a great passion for helping people enjoy healthy lives. He does that through his compelling and educating articles on various health topics.

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