Pregnant women who exercise during their pregnancy sleep better and have more energy. Find out how you can exercise safely during pregnancy and get tips on exercise routines for all fitness levels.
We would like to thank both Catherine CHUA Bee Hong Senior Principal Physiotherapist and Elizabeth CHAN Jiahui Principal Physiotherapist from KK Women's and Children's Hospital for their input in this article.
Exercise During Your Pregnancy
Sticking to an exercise routine can be a struggle for anyone. If you're a mum-to-be, squeezing in any workout or prenatal yoga classes sometimes feels near impossible. What with your busy work schedule, prepping for maternity leave, and the insatiable need for sleep, even finding an hour to spend at the gym for your regular exercises seems way harder than it is.
Don't throw in the towel yet. Exercise is a great way to deal with pregnancy lethargy, not to mention all the aches and pains. Women who exercise during pregnancy sleep better and have more energy.
3 Tips for Pregnancy Workouts
Regular physical activity has also been shown to help maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy. If you have not done any exercise previously, do consult your doctor before commencing. Try these tips.
1. Opt for Short, Low-Impact Exercises
You don't need an hour to accomplish an effective workout. Instead, physical activity can be spread throughout the week and accumulated in bouts of 10 minutes.
If you can spare the time, a 30-minute swim is a great low-impact exercise. Swimming is safe and is also gentle on your body and baby as it is a non-weight bearing activity. Being in the water reduces the risk of injury by relieving the load on your joints when you exercise.
To swim safely during pregnancy, please take the following precautions. Be sure to walk carefully and slowly around the pool as wet surfaces are slippery. Step slowly into the pool instead of diving or jumping in and keep your breathing steady and continuous. Remember to also stay hydrated and eat well before and after the exercise.
Other low-impact exercises include brisk walking, indoor stationary cycling and aerobics.
Related: Pregnancy Exercises
2. Take a Walk in the Park
Walking is also a great exercise for pregnant women at all fitness levels, and husbands can join in the activity too. Visit and explore our many national parks. NParks has many recommendations and also informs you how long each walk may take. You simply need to pick the one that suits your schedule. Find your preferred park here.
When pregnant, your centre of gravity changes as your pregnancy progresses and your belly gets bigger. Begin by walking slowly to allow your body to get accustomed to the extra weight. You may gradually progress into brisk walking. Avoid walking in hot weather such as under the mid-day sun, as it is easy for your body to overheat during exercise, and remember to drink lots of water.
It's a good idea to do a warm-up, such as marching in place for a few minutes, before you set off on the activity. Walking can help you stay fit and healthy as it keeps your heart rate strong and your muscles toned.
3. Create Your Own Workout Routine
You don't need to hit the gym to get those squats and cardio done.
Some antenatal exercises include yoga moves, chair squats, wall sits, arm curls and more. Tailoring your own home workout routine ensures that you do the exercises that best suit your body's needs.
For example, yoga moves such as the tree pose can help you improve your balance as well as stretch out your hips. Balancing exercises should be done with caution and nearby support to prevent falls.
Doing a home workout also means that you won't need to spend money on a gym membership and expensive gym equipment. Use a yoga mat for support when you are lying flat on the floor. As long you can find a safe and spacious area where there are no obstructive objects, you can perform your workout anywhere.
Pregnancy Exercises Should Never Feel Painful
As with all exercise programmes, pregnant women should perform adequate warm-up and cool-down exercises before and after the activity, as well as stretching. Remember to stay well hydrated and eat healthily before and after each exercise. While performing exercises, keep your breathing steady and continuous.
Remember to listen to your body. If you feel that the activity is getting too strenuous or putting pressure on your joints, stop immediately or take more breaks in between. As a rule, you should be able to hold a normal conversation while exercising. Always move through a range of motion that feels good for you; it should never be painful.
Read these next:
1. Fox, I. (2004, Aug). The Benefits of Walking for Pregnant and New Moms [Website].
Retrieved December 2016 from http://www.parents.com/baby/health/lose-baby-weight/benefits-walking-pregnant-new-moms/
2. BabyCenter Medical Advisory Board. (2016, Aug). Great pregnancy exercise: Swimming [Website].
Retrieved December 2016 from http://www.babycenter.com/0_great-pregnancy-exercise-swimming_7822.bc
3. Johnson, T. C. (2016, Sep 08). Exercise During Pregnancy [Website].
Retrieved December 2016 from http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/exercise-during-pregnancy#1-3