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Exercising every day of the week for at least 30 minutes is good for you. It helps keep your body in shape and keeps you healthy. Pregnancy has not been an exception to keeping fit as recent studies support the idea that pregnancy workouts are good for your health and most importantly, your baby's health.

"The way I look at it, anything you're doing for you, you're doing for the baby, too," says Rebecca Scritchfield, a Washington, D.C.-based registered dietitian and ACSM certified health fitness specialist.

This is what exercising whilst pregnant does to the health of you and your baby:

  • More Advanced Brains

A 2013 study published by researchers at the University of Montreal compared the cognitive development of two groups of babies. One half was born to moms who had at least 20 minutes of moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise (think: walking or jogging) three days each week; the other, to moms who were inactive.

The researchers compared how the brains of both sets of babies responded to sound at one month of age, which is a measure of cognitive development. They found that babies born to the exercising mothers had more mature brain function that is more advanced brains than those born to the less active moms.

  • Better Heart Health

In 2011, a study from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Missouri assessed the heart activity of pregnant mothers and their infants-to-be. They found evidence that aerobic activity affects babies in much the same way that it helps their moms.

Scientists found that the foetuses of pregnant women who worked out at least 30 minutes a day, three days a week, had lower heart rates (a sign of heart health). And when those women's one-month-old babies were tested, they also had lower heart rates, as well as better heart rate variability, which is a sign that their nervous systems were better controlling their hearts.

"If this result -- that exercise offers cardiovascular protection -- is supported by further research," Dr. Ross says, "it could certainly support the idea that healthy cardiovascular activity during pregnancy could be the best start for your baby's health in the future."

  • Healthier Birth Weight

A study conducted in New Zealand in 2010 showed that mothers who exercise while pregnant tend to have babies born at healthier weights. "Babies born to moms who worked out regularly were found to be about five ounces lighter on average," Dr. Ross says.

"That [healthier birth weight] makes recovery from delivery better, limiting sugar shifts and making the babies less prone to diabetes," Dr. Ross continues. Some experts also believe that babies born at healthy weights are also less likely to be obese in later life.

Also, keep up your normal daily physical activity or exercise (sport, swimming, dancing, or even walking) for as long as you feel comfortable. Exercise is not dangerous for your baby and active women are less likely to experience problems in later pregnancy and labour. Keeping up with the habit of exercising whilst pregnant would leave you more disciplined when it is time to lose some of your baby weight.

Below are exercises that would help you stay fit as a pregnant woman. Try to fit the exercises listed below into your daily routine. They will strengthen your muscles so that you can carry the extra weight of pregnancy. They'll also make your joints stronger, improve circulation, ease backache, and generally help you feel well:

  • Stomach-strengthening exercises- These exercises strengthen stomach (abdominal) muscles and may ease backache.

•    Start in a box position (on all fours) with knees under hips, hands under shoulders, with fingers facing forward and abdominals lifted to keep your back straight
•    Pull in your stomach muscles and raise your back up towards the ceiling, curling the trunk and allowing your head to relax gently forward. Don't let your elbows lock
•    Hold for a few seconds then slowly return to the box position
•    Take care not to hollow your back: it should always return to a straight/neutral position
•    Do this slowly and rhythmically 10 times, making your muscles work hard and moving your back carefully
•    Only move your back as far as you can comfortably

  • Pelvic tilt exercises

•    Stand with your shoulders and bottom against a wall
•    keep your knees soft
•    Pull your tummy button towards your spine, so that your back flattens against the wall: hold for four seconds and release
•    Repeat up to 10 times

  • Pelvic floor exercises- help to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor, which come under great strain in pregnancy and childbirth.

•    Close up your anus as if you're trying to prevent a bowel movement
•    At the same time, draw in your vagina as if you're gripping a tampon, and your urethra as if to stop the flow of urine
•    At first, do this exercise quickly, tightening and releasing the muscles immediately
•    Then do it slowly, holding the contractions for as long as you can before you relax: try to count to 10
•    Try to do three sets of eight squeezes every day: to help you remember, you could do a set at each meal

Remember to take it easy when exercising;  avoid strenuous workouts.


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