Exercise during pregnancy is key to maintaining overall health and preparing the body for labor and delivery. Many pregnant women choose to continue the exercise programs they were following prior to pregnancy yet despite health considerations, not all women exercise regularly. Swimming is a low-intensity workout that allows the pregnant woman to relieve lower back strain. Besides reveling in the feeling of weightlessness, swimming provides various health benefits during pregnancy.
Relief from joint pain
Swimming is the ideal exercise for patients with joint pain associated with inflammation and certain types of arthritis. Hormone changes and increased body weight can cause joint pain for many pregnant women, especially lower back pain. Swimming physically removes the weight causing pain on joints, thus allowing full range of motion without pain. Spending just 30 minutes swimming in a pool each day or several days a week during pregnancy can reduce pain and improve overall fitness.
Improved mental state
Based on a clinical study published in 1999, swimming provides both physical and mental benefits for pregnant women. Swimming improves overall mood and leaves the swimmer with a feeling of well-being.
Swimming utilizes multiple muscle groups simultaneously. This improves glucose utilization, which increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin. Improved insulin sensitivity may decrease risk factors for gestational diabetes. Swimming may also reduce the risk of heart disease, improve heart health and increase lifespan.
Some limitations during pregnancy
Swimming is one of the few exercises that nearly all pregnant women can participate in even if there are underlying medical considerations and risk factors that may limit activity. It is best to talk with your physician before swimming as all pregnancies are different and all health histories unique. If you’ve been placed on bed rest, talk with your physician about swimming as a healthy means of remaining active during pregnancy.
Most pregnant women benefit from some form of exercise. Fatigue, pregnancy complications and health considerations may limit the available exercises for a pregnant woman. Swimming is one of the few exercises that is both safe and effective for the majority of pregnant women. As is the case with any exercise activity, stay hydrated, do not overwork muscles, including the heart, and stop if you feel any unnatural pain while swimming. Always talk with your physician before starting a new exercise program during pregnancy.