When you’re pregnant, your energy level may lag. You are, after all, creating a human being, and that’s hard work! But in spite of the fact that your low energy level and growing belly may make you feel more like lounging around, you should be doing the opposite — at least for about 30 minutes a day.
Exercise during pregnancy is important for your overall health and the health of your baby. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that healthy women get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity, ideally spread out across the week.
Do you know what makes an ideal moderate-intensity activity for pregnant women? Brisk walking.
Why you should walk during pregnancy
Walking is a low-impact exercise that can be done almost anywhere and any time. You only need a good, comfortable pair of sneakers and a water bottle, and you’re ready to walk around your neighborhood, a park, or around the block outside your office.
Our team at Annandale Ob-Gyn & Primary Care knows that walking is a great way for many pregnant women to exercise. We’ve pulled together a list of the many benefits for you.
Walking during pregnancy:
- Reduces the risk of complications during pregnancy and delivery. Studies show that women who exercise regularly have a lower risk of developing gestational diabetes or having unplanned cesarean sections.
- Helps you burn calories so you keep your weight in check. Less weight during pregnancy means its less likely you’ll deliver prematurely and more likely you’ll return to your pre-pregnancy weight sooner.
- Boosts your mood and energy levels. One study found significant improvement in the moods and fatigue levels of pregnant women who walked about 30 minutes four times a week.
- Eases back pain and other aches. Back pain during pregnancy is common and can often interfere with daily activities and sleep. Walking can help keep your back muscles strong and warm up so that they can support your growing belly and not become stiff.
- Helps you sleep better by burning off excess energy so that you’re tired and can doze off to sleep more easily. Just make sure you exercise well before bedtime, or walking may have the opposite effect.
- Relieves constipation which is a common symptom during pregnancy. Exercise helps move food through the digestive tract faster, so less water is absorbed in the colon, making stools softer and easier to pass.
- Makes or keeps your muscles strong, making delivery and recovery easier. Delivering a baby is no walk in the park and having the strength and endurance to get you through it can only help.
Safety tips for walking during pregnancy
If you were active before, staying active during your pregnancy should be fairly simple. If not, then you should start slowly, walking for five minutes and day, for example, and building up to 30 minutes or more. Always consult your Annandale obstetrician before embarking on any type of exercise routine during pregnancy.
Some general tips include:
- Stay hydrated. Take a water bottle with you and drink often. And if it’s hot weather, it might be better to walk inside, so you don’t get overheated.
- Listen to your body. Don’t overdo it. Exercise is important, but now is not the time to push yourself. If you’re feeling tired, rest. You can break your walk into two sessions if you need to.
- Look where you’re going. With your belly getting bigger and your sense of gravity shifting, it’s important to be sure to look out in front of you. You don’t want to trip or fall.
- Stop walking if you feel dizzy, have vaginal bleeding, or trouble breathing. Call your doctor right away if you experience these symptoms.
Walking can be a wonderful way to stay fit while you’re pregnant. If you have questions about exercise, give us a call or ask at your next prenatal visit.
Author: Dr. Anna Le