Women who engaged in 20 minutes of cardiovascular exercise three times a week at a moderate intensity while pregnant had newborns with advanced brain activity at 8 to 12 days old, according to a recent study. Researchers suspect that prenatal exercise speeds up a process in your baby known as synaptic pruning, in which unused brain connections are eliminated, helping brain development. Just get your doctor’s OK before beginning any new exercise program.


 

Exercising During Pregnancy

Before you lace up, here are a few things to consider:

  • Make sure to okay your pregnancy exercise routine with your doctor
  • Try to exercise three or more times per week if it's okay with your doctor
  • Drink plenty of water before and during exercise
  • Avoid exercising on your back or while holding your breath after the first trimester
  • Stay away from exercises that risk stomach injury or losing your balance
  • Keep your heart rate below 140 beats per minute
  • Avoid exercises that involve jerking or bouncing, and any contact sport
  • Be sure you're getting a balanced diet
  • Take it easy; listen to your body, and to your doctor

 

Talk to Your Doctor About Choosing Exercises for Pregnant Women

Walking
Keeps you moving, strengthens your muscles, and builds endurance. Low impact.

Swimming/Water Aerobics
Ditto from walking. It gets the oxygen flowing to your baby and lowers your risk of developing pregnancy-related health conditions.

Squats and Wall Slides
They strengthen your legs and help open your pelvis so your baby can descend.

Stand with your back against a wall, feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping your back supported, bend your knees slowly, as if you are about to sit down. It helps to rest your hands just above your knees for balance. Just don't squat so deeply that your knees extend over your toes. Hold that semi-seated position for a few seconds, then slide back up. Repeat three to five times, building to ten repetitions.

Pelvic Tilt
Great for making your stomach muscles stronger and your back muscles more flexible, to reduce backache and ease delivery.

Get on your hands and knees, keeping your head level with your back. Pull in your stomach, pushing up with your back like you're making a camel hump. Hold it for a few seconds and then relax, without letting your stomach muscles sag. Repeat three to five times, building to ten repetitions.

Kegel Exercises
These strengthen your pelvic muscles. This comes in handy during delivery and for avoiding hemorrhoids and loss of bladder control.

Pretend you're trying to stop yourself from urinating by tightening the muscles around the vagina and rectum. Hold for five seconds, then relax. Repeat four to five times in a row. You can even do Kegels while working at your desk or watching TV.

Tailor Sitting
These stretch the muscles in your inner thigh, back and pelvis, to help with delivery.

Sit on the floor, bend your legs, and put the soles of your feet together. Let your knees relax and drop toward the floor. Then bring your feet close in to your body. If you're not that limber yet, just cross one leg in front of the other. Try sitting in this position a few times a day.