She further highlights that when pregnant or post-partum women exercise regularly, it helps improve their mood and combats stress that could occur due to their pregnancy or becoming a mother. She states that exercising can also help reduce their likelihood of getting degenerative or chronic diseases, improves their overall general fitness and strengthens their heart and blood vessels.
Pregnant women can engage in mild to moderate workouts for physical activity that is light enough for them to handle with the extra volume on their torso. If pregnant women workout for about half an hour a day, they will get the most benefits. It doesn’t have to be intense. Any type of movement like stationary cycling, walking, doing yoga, swimming, or other low-impact aerobics can help,” she states.
Ms. Yusuf emphasizes that walking is a simple but effective form of exercise that can be done almost anywhere and anytime. “Walking during pregnancy is important for a pregnant woman’s overall health and the health of her baby. Walking in pregnancy is safe and can improve the pregnancy outcome,” she highlights saying, “When women walk for at least 30 minutes a day during pregnancy, they can strengthen their back muscles, improve their mood and fatigue level.”
The National Health Strategy Lead for Healthy Women Leading to Healthy Pregnancies and Senior Consultant Obstetrics/Gynecology at WWRC, Dr. Najat Al Khenyab, echoes similar views that low impact exercise is good for pregnant women, but she cautions that it is always important to seek physician’s advice first before exercising. “While it is important for pregnant women to stay active throughout their pregnancy, it is equally advisable that they consult their attending physicians first to know if it is safe for them to exercise and what types of exercises they can engage in,” she states.
“By consulting their physicians, pregnant women can know their body’s needs and which exercise to do to suit their body. Every pregnant woman is different. So, individuals should know what kind of exercise will work best for her body and not put her baby in harm’s way. In addition, how much a woman is able to cope with exercising while pregnant might also depend on how much fitness they had engaged in prior to getting pregnant,” Dr. Al Khenyab points out.
While exercising is good for the body, Dr. Al Khenyab advises pregnant women to start off exercising slowly and gradually increase their level of activity; avoid lying flat on their back (especially after the first 3 months of pregnancy); avoid exercising outdoors in hot or humid weather; drink plenty of water and fluids during and after exercising. She adds that they should stop exercising if they get out of breath and can't talk easily or if they start seeing signs of labor like contractions.