Both you and your baby benefit from exercise: your blood starts circulating freely, there’s a blast of oxygen to your baby’s brain, exercise hormones such as endorphins give you both a wonderful high and your baby loves the swaying motion. Exercise increases your strength, suppleness and stamina, which will make pregnancy easier and equip you for the rigours of labour.
But exercise in pregnancy is not just about fitness. It helps you to understand your body, to believe in its power, and it gives you the key to relaxation so that you can cope with fatigue and prepare yourself for the birth.
Try to incorporate some exercise into your day, beginning gradually, at a pace that is comfortable. Always stop if you get out of breath or feel pain. Whole-body exercise is best as it tones up your heart and lungs, so walking and swimming are excellent. Dancing is good too, as long as it’s not too energetic. Yoga is ideal because it stretches tight muscles and joints and also relieves tension. Yoga methods can also help with labour and pain relief.
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Pregnancy is not a time to start learning an energetic contact sport. However, you can continue sporting activities for a while if you’re already fit and play often. Don’t engage in sports like skiing, cycling or horse riding after 20 weeks because balance may become a problem from that time. Take it easy with very energetic sports like tennis or squash, and don’t go heavy workouts at the gym, especially tough abdominal exercises.