Why is it important to stay active during pregnancy?

Finding out you are pregnant is really exciting, but it can also be pretty scary and a bit overwhelming!

What do I need to do? Who should I tell? Do I need to go to the hospital!? How will I look after a baby!

There’s lots of new stuff to learn, discover and enjoy, but unfortunately, there’s also lots of old wives tales and misconceptions.

When it comes to exercising during pregnancy it can be daunting, even if you are a regular exerciser. You may have been told you can’t do certain types of exercises, you should do this, or you shouldn’t do that, which can be confusing, even for the most confident exerciser.

Where to start

If you are not currently active you should start gradually, this may mean trying to increase physical activity in your day-to-day life; walking more often, taking the stairs or starting to exercise at home.

If you are already active, keep going! Now, this doesn’t mean keep going with the same activities at the same intensity as currently, it means stay active. 

This may involve switching the type of activity you do, for example, if you play rugby or are a Thai boxer, it would be advisable to stop and find another way to stay active such as joining and attending pregnancy specific workouts.

How much activity should I do?

The UK Chief Medical Officers advise “throughout pregnancy you should aims for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity every week.”

If you are currently inactive, this may seem like an unachievable goal, but by taking it step by step you will soon find a sustainable and enjoyable way to stay active throughout pregnancy and into motherhood.

Remember, every activity and every minute counts! Even if you don’t achieve 150 minutes, regular physical activity will make the world of difference to how you are feeling physically, mentally and help to give baby the best start in life.

The types of activity you should include fall into 3 main categories:

  • Home
  • Out and about
  • Leisure

Home activities include taking the stairs, playing games with older children or exercising at home such as joining in with a home workout.

Out and about activities could include shopping, carrying bags, cycling or going for long walks.

While Leisure activities may be going to the gym, swimming, dancing or joining a Mamafit® class.

Including muscles strengthening activities twice a week is highly recommended, this not only helps you to achieve good posture during pregnancy, minimising back pain and general pregnancy aches, but also helps you to get strong for motherhood making it easier to hold baby for prolonged periods of time such as feeding, carrying or comforting baby.

What are the benefits?

Worrying that exercising during pregnancy will harm the baby is common, however CMO research has found “no evidence of harm’ relating to being physically active when the above advice is followed.

Staying active during pregnancy is not only safe, but also massively beneficial!

Key benefits include:

  • Control weight gain: Avoiding excessive weight gain by choosing to remain active and making healthy lifestyle choices.
  • Improve fitness: The more active we are the fitter we feel.
  • Reduce high blood pressure: Lowering the risk of developing pre-eclampsia.
  • Improves sleep: Who doesn’t want to improve their quality of sleep!
  • Prevents diabetes of pregnancy: Staying active and eating well helps to avoid or manage gestational diabetes.
  • Improves mood: Not only is activity good for your physical health it boosts your mood, helps you feel more confident and improves your overall mental wellbeing

Is there anything I should avoid?

Don’t bump the bump, it sounds fairly obvious, but you shouldn’t do anything that involves contact with the bump this may be contact sport or lying prone (stomach down) to perform an exercise.

You should also pay attention to your intensity level, during pregnancy you should be aiming for moderate intensity, around 5-7 on a 1 – 10 scale.

Avoid jumpy style exercises, you can still take part in HIIT style workouts such as Mamafit® HIIT but you should avoid plyometric exercises such as burpees, jumping or any exercise where you don’t feel in control. At Mamafit® HIIT we offer LIIT options (Lower intensity) to allow mums to attend HIIT during pregnancy and in the early postnatal period.

Finally, listen to your body and adapt, what feels right at week 10 of pregnancy may not work for you at week 28. If something doesn’t feel right, is causing you pain or you’re just not enjoying it, stop, seek advice if necessary and switch to an activity that makes you feel good.

In summary…

During pregnancy you should be aiming for 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity each week, aim for a mix of home, out and about and leisure actives including muscle strengthening activities such as bodyweight exercises, weighted workouts like Mamafit® CIRCUITS, Pilates or yoga.

Remember, if you haven’t exercised for a while start gradually, listen to your body and adapt where necessary. If anything doesn’t feel right or causes pain stop what you are doing and seek advice.

The benefits of staying active during pregnancy are huge for both mum and baby; improving your overall physical health, preventing or managing back pain, helping you to feel strong for birth and promoting good mental health during pregnancy and beyond.

Here at Mamafit® we have a wide range of activities available in Liverpool, Knowsley, St Helens and Halton to help you stay active and improve your health during pregnancy and into motherhood.

Rob - Mamafit® Founder