Are you constantly feeling tired during your pregnancy, especially during the last trimester? A little exercise offers a host of health benefits for both you and your unborn baby, and may help you feel more energized during the last leg of your pregnancy journey to boot. Experts recommend light-to-moderate exercise during pregnancy. There are a variety of options that you can choose from—swimming and prenatal yoga to name a few. But if you’re looking for an easy, convenient, safe, and cost-free way to stay in shape and boost your mood while pregnant, walking may be your best bet. Walking while pregnant is not only beneficial for you physically, it can also keep stress at bay, which is good for you and your growing baby.
Pregnancy Exercise: Why Walking Is the Best Solution
Research shows that walking during pregnancy can not only increase your chances of having a natural birth but also reduce your chances of contracting gestational diabetes and other pregnancy-associated complications. Now that’s wonderful news!
4 ways Walking Benefits You and Your Baby
1. Walking Improves Blood Circulation During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, your body needs more nutrients for the proper growth and development of your baby. Walking is a great way to improve blood circulation to the fetus, which helps to maintain a healthy flow of nutrients to your baby. Walking may also help to reduce or prevent any pain triggered by poor blood flow.
2. Walking Eases Fluid Retention During Pregnancy
As your pregnancy progresses, you will most likely experience water retention. This symptom occurs when fluids get trapped in your tissues, causing swelling. In most cases, the swelling will be around your ankles, feet, and legs.
By walking, you contract your leg muscles and improve blood circulation throughout your body. This helps to release extra fluid out of your tissues, especially the tissues of your feet and ankles. Before you head out for a walk, be sure you’re wearing supportive shoes to cushion your feet. Investing in the right pair of sneakers will contribute to better balance and posture during your strolls.
3. Walking Helps Keep Stress at Bay During Pregnancy
When you walk, your endorphin levels increase. The sudden boost in these ‘feel-good’ hormones helps to reduce stress-related hormones, resulting in reduced tension and stress. It’s extremely important to keep your stress level in check throughout your pregnancy. Growing research suggests that heightened stress and anxiety during this period can harm the fetus by negatively impacting brain development and growth and contributing to early labor.
4. Walking Prevents Excessive Weight Gain During Pregnancy
It’s key to keep a healthy weight during pregnancy as being overweight or obese during pregnancy can cause various health issues for both you and your unborn baby. These types of health issues are more likely to occur in pregnant women who are overweight or obese:
- Preeclampsia (a dangerous pregnancy condition characterized by high blood pressure, high levels of protein in the urine, and fluid retention)
- Gestational diabetes
- Blood clotting
- High blood pressure
- Excessive bleeding during and after birth
Walking on a regular basis can help keep your weight in check, which may work to prevent the long list of frightening health issues listed above.
Safety Tips for Walking During Pregnancy
Before you take up a walking routine, be sure to consult with your primary care doctor or gynecologist to get their go-ahead. This is especially true if you’re in your first trimester and haven’t been active for a while. If you’re experiencing a high-risk pregnancy, walking may not be a safe option for you at all; in this case, you must talk to your doctor before engaging in any type of exercise.
Here are a few safety tips to consider before you hit the road:
- Always stop to relax and stretch after 10 to 15 minutes of walking. This will help your muscles relax and reduce the chances of having a leg cramp.
- Make sure you walk on even surfaces only. Avoid rocky or elevated walking trails as this will increase your likelihood of having a fall.
- Don’t overdo it. If you feel breathless, nauseous, exhausted, or dizzy on your walk, take a breather. And call for help, if needed.
With these safety tips in mind, walking can become an integral part of your prenatal care regimen.
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