Swimming: The Perfect Pregnancy Workout
June 13, 2020
You want to stay fit and active during pregnancy, but what’s a safe option? Many forms of exercise are considered too aggressive for pregnancy; however, swimming is a low-impact sport that helps the mom-to-be stay active, fit, and healthy. In fact, doctors say it’s one of the best exercises a woman can do during pregnancy.
Swimming During Pregnancy
What makes swimming so great is that the water partially supports the weight of the pregnant woman. This means she can move freely in the water while actually decreasing the pressure on the spine, limbs, and joints throughout her body. As the woman’s pregnancy progresses, there’s no need to modify the swimming workouts as long as she stays well-hydrated and keeps her heart rate between 120 and 140. Swimming is a great way to build endurance, increase strength and muscle tone, and improve circulation. When a pregnant woman uses swimming as her main source of exercise, she works both of the large muscle groups in her arms and in her legs. Even though swimming is easy on the joints, it gives these muscles a good workout. The woman is able to get a good workout because she feels weightless, even though she’s added extra pounds throughout the pregnancy. The workout also provides the woman with a boost in her ability to process and use oxygen, something that’s vitally important during pregnancy.
Pregnancy Pain Relief
If you know a pregnant woman who’s struggling with back strain, she needs to get into a pool pronto. Because of the expanding belly, a woman’s shoulder and spine round forward and the pelvis can tilt out of alignment. The result is an aching back that doesn’t seem to go away. Swimming is a great way to solve this problem without medication. Swimming strengthens the muscles, which are then strong enough to support the belly without the bones falling out of alignment. After spending quality time in a pool, a pregnant woman might also notice several other benefits:
- More energy (less fatigue)
- Better sleep
- Fewer emotional meltdowns
- Healthy pregnancy weight gain
- Less bloating
A Few Safety Precautions
If you haven’t had an exercise routine before pregnancy, swimming is a great place to start. Check with your doctor or midwife first, just to be sure. Expect to start slowly; you’ll need plenty of time to stretch before you get in the pool, and then time to cool down after your workout. Even though you’re submerged in water when you’re swimming, it’s easy to forget about proper hydration. If you plan to be in the pool, drink one 8-ounce glass of water before you begin. Take a break every 20 minutes to drink another 8-ounce glass of water, and then drink another glass of water when your workout is done. If you’re in an outdoor pool in hot or humid weather, expect that you’ll need even more water than that.
Tips by Trimester
Try to swim for at least 30 minutes a day every day of the week. If you have morning sickness, swimming first thing in the morning can actually help counteract the nausea and give you energy to push through your day.
The buoyancy of the water is your friend, so feel free to do the backstroke without putting yourself at risk of impaired blood flow like could happen when you lay on your back on dry ground. This is a good time to start shopping for a maternity swimsuit.
Lengthen your chest muscles and shorten your back muscles with the breaststroke; this will make it easier to carry your expanding belly as you hit the home stretch.