Finding the energy to gear up and get out of the door for a full workout can be a struggle on the best of days, let alone when you’re expecting.
When you are navigating your way through pregnancy hormones, swollen ankles and nausea, going to the gym can be the last thing you feel like doing. But if like many mums, you are struggling to find the time or motivation for HIIT or a morning run, a simple walk might be the answer.
Walking in pregnancy is arguably one of the most underrated forms of exercise because it is so easily tailored to all kinds of different fitness levels as well as being an allowed exercise even when you have contraindications against others (although always check with your doctor if you do have any issues). When you are feeling like a morning run or gym session is just too much, keeping up an active lifestyle through walking can have some incredible benefits. We’ve put together our top six reasons why walking is one of the best exercises you can do whilst expecting.
You really don’t need anything specific in order to start walking in pregnancy, just grab a decent pair of supportive trainers and a water bottle, other than that, you’re good to go. Just remember to dress according to the weather, and if you’re finding that none of your maternity-wear is appropriate or supportive enough, the Natal Active collection has got your back! And don’t forget, as we finally head into sunnier weather, to make sure you wear sunscreen as your skin can be extra sensitive to sunlight in pregnancy.
Reduces complications during delivery
Studies show that women who exercise regularly have a far lower risk of developing gestational diabetes or having unplanned c-sections. Adding short, brisk walks into your daily routine, such as walking to work or taking the dog a little further than you usually would is an ideal way to fit it in and help boost your chances of a healthy pregnancy and more straightforward delivery.
A better night’s sleep
Sleepless nights due to discomfort and restlessness are more than common for expecting mums; by taking a brisk walk in the day you’ll burn off any excess energy so that by the time you lay your head down hopefully you’ll drift off a little easier.
Boosts your mood
Aside from the fact that even just 10 minutes of exercise a day can help boost your serotonin levels and boost your mood, getting out of the house and into some fresh air can be an amazing way to help keep you feeling fresh and happy. Try and get out even on days when the weather is bad (as my mum always said, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes!) and as we head into Spring, never let a lovely day pass you by.
If you are struggling with back pain, joint pains and aching sensations, taking a little time out of your day and walking in pregnancy, could help relieve some of your discomfort. Walking can help to keep your back muscles strong so that they can better support your growing bump.
Faster postnatal recovery
Walking in pregnancy, even if just a little bit every day helps to keep your body strong and healthy which may not only help your labour go smoother, but can also put you in a much better physical position postnatally.
Walking in pregnancy is recognised as one of the simpler exercises that you can do to keep fit. And if you were active before your pregnancy, then this might all come like second nature. But if you weren’t very active prior, then walking is something you can incorporate without having a high base level of fitness. Importantly, you should always speak to your doctor before embarking on any kind of regular exercise routine in pregnancy. Beyond that, here’s a few things you can do to get the most out of your walks:
I mentioned grabbing your water bottle earlier, but I cannot stress enough the importance of staying hydrated. During pregnancy, your body needs more water than you did previously, so if you are embarking on a slightly longer walk than normal, make sure to take a bigger bottle!
Listen to your body
Some days you’ll feel like you can go for a full-on hike just fine, but other days, just walking around the house may feel like a struggle. It is important that you don’t overdo it and make sure you listen out for your body’s signals that today isn’t the day to trek up a hill.
Pick your terrain with care
By the time you hit 16 – 20 weeks into your pregnancy, your bump is getting bigger every single day. As it does, you’ll find your centre of gravity changes, that last thing you want is to accidentally trip on rocky or uneven terrain. Keep to clear paths or failing that, keep a careful eye on the path ahead of you!
When to talk to your doctor
Just like any other physical activity, you can definitely overdo it when it comes to walking. It’s important to look out for common signs that you are overdoing it such as: shortness of breath, dizziness and joint pain. But when do you talk to your doctor? The truth of the matter is, no concern is too small. If something isn’t feeling right, ask them the question.
That said, if you are experiencing chest pains, calf pain or swelling, headaches or uterine contractions, please speak to your doctor or care giver immediately.