When you’re struggling to keep a meal down during the first trimester of pregnancy, dealing with a changing body in the second, or huffing and puffing just to make it to the bathroom as you near your due date, hitting the gym might be the last thing on your mind. But a growing body of research suggests that exercise has big benefits for both you and your baby. Even a simple walk around the block or a session of stretching can lead to an improved mood, better sleep, an easier labor and a quicker recovery. So if you need some motivation to lace up those dusty sneakers, here it is

The importance of pregnancy exercises

For all of your adult life, you’ve probably been aware that exercising — whether that means a yoga class, bike ride or run — can help you keep the pounds off and help prevent diseases like type 2 diabetes. During pregnancy, there are even more reasons to keep moving — or get moving, even if you haven’t had an exercise routine in the past. Being in your best health before becoming pregnant is essential for a healthy pregnancy and baby; but over 30 percent of Utah women entering pregnancy are either overweight or obese. No matter how much you weigh - there is one thing women can do right now to help prevent pregnancy problems – exercise. But it is also a health issue. Research shows that women who are overweight when starting a pregnancy have a harder time losing their baby weight afterwards - a contributing factor to obesity in women. They also are at risk for complications, like gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, a more difficult labor and delivery, and a host of other conditions. Weight gain charts can help women keep track of how much weight they are gaining. The charts are based on pre-pregnancy body mass index, and show the recommended weight gain range for each woman's pregnancy. Besides tracking your weight, Huebusch says exercise will make a world of difference in a pregnant women's physical - and mental health - no matter how much she weighs. Most pregnant women who exercise will say they feel better when they exercise,” says Heubusch. “They feel their circulation is better, their moods are better; they feel they carry the baby more comfortably. Sometimes women visualize exercise is they have to go to a gym and it's time away from their children or the expense; it really can be as simple as getting some good walking shoes and going for a good brisk walk.

Benefits of Pregnancy Exercise

Exercising during pregnancy has been found to:

  • Reduce risk of pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes

  • Lower odds of delivery complications like macrosomic babies

  • Speed post-delivery recovery

  • Boost your moody, reduces depression

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Ease back and pelvic pain
  • Fight fatigue
  • Improve sleep
  • Relieve constipation

Healthcare providers generally recommend that doing what exercise you can while you’re pregnant is a great way to have the healthiest (and most comfortable) pregnancy possible.