The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that, during pregnancy, women should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercises throughout the week.
The good news is you don’t have to do it all at once. You can spread your physical activity out during the week, for example, you can choose to do 30 mins of physical activity a day, 5 days per week. You can also break it up into smaller chunks of time during the day. as long as you are meeting the WHO guidelines.
Here are five recommended exercises for pregnant women.
These activities carry little risk of injury, benefit the entire body, and are usually safe to do until delivery.
Walking - A quick stroll around the neighborhood is a good way to start. This gives a total body workout and is easy on the joints and muscles.
Dancing - You not only get to move your body to the music you love, but it is a great way to keep you flexible and tone your muscles.
Swimming - Water is the ideal environment for physical activity during pregnancy because it reduces the force of gravity, and you feel lighter. You can do as many exercises as you want in the water. If you have low back pain when you do other activities, try swimming.
Stretching Exercises – These releases tight muscles and relieves back aches. Examples include; Side stretches, Child’s pose, Cat’s pose, etc
Pelvic Floor exercises (Kegel exercises) – These are very effective in strengthening the pelvic floor muscles and reduce the risk of you leaking urine while you're pregnant and after your baby is born.
How to do Kegels
1. Start with emptying your bladder to avoid any urinary infections
2. Identify the right muscles by imagining you are urinating and then tightening your muscles as if you are stopping the flow of urine or stopping the wind from escaping.
3. Contract the muscles for five seconds, and then release them for five seconds.
4. Repeat this process five times in a row.
5. Work up to longer contractions.
6. While doing this, try to relax your abdominal muscles and don’t hold your breath.
Please do not start a pregnancy exercise program until your doctor has cleared you to do so.
If you experience dizziness, heart palpitations, chest pain, contractions, unusual shortness of breath, or any unusual change in your baby’s movements, during or after physical activity, stop exercising immediately and see your doctor.
Nwaliweaku Anidi is a Public Health specialist, working in Nigeria’s national public health institute, and also the Founder of Active Lifestyle Project, https://instagram.com/activelifestyle.project, a social project that encourages healthy lifestyles, through educational awareness and behavior changes, particularly physical activity, towards the fight against Non-Communicable Diseases.