One exercise that has remained unchallenged since the evolution of mankind is none other than walking. Suitable for people across age groups, befitting the needs of individuals suffering from ailments and the safest activity for pregnant women, walking benefits every man and woman living in this Earth. Pregnancy brings about a cascade of changes in a woman’s body impacting her mood, appetite and energy, and walking is the foolproof way to improve circulation, build stamina and help the pregnant woman stay fit as the baby grows bigger and bigger inside.
Break the Shell
Been living a sedentary lifestyle or too busy to exercise until now? Throw away your lame excuses and start following a disciplined exercise schedule until you are advised against it. Before starting any program, discuss with your physician and get his/her approval while understanding the maximum duration and intensity of exercise your body can withstand. Any time in your life when you start exercising, start slowly, proceed gradually and change your activity levels depending on your body’s reaction. Walking is the best activity for both mommy and baby.
Leg Resistance: Weight gain is inevitable during pregnancy and it might be considered as essential too (until it is a healthy weight gain). As weight gain happens, muscles strengthen automatically to carry the extra weight without the aid of lifting weights. While other parts of the body benefit from natural strengthening, strength of leg muscles depend purely on the amount of physical activity done.
Flexibility: None is ignorant of the fact that joints and muscles pain are prominently present among older people as they age. This is due to decreased activity and movement. Our muscles and joints remain flexible only when they are constantly used and subjected to some kind of movement. Walking helps every pregnant woman maintain overall body flexibility and your leg movements help to keep your hips flexible too. Hips play a pivotal role during childbirth and strong hips that are flexible make it easier for the pregnant mom during labor.
Permissible Weight Gain: Physicians recommend different weight gain ranges for pregnant women depending on their current body weight. To check your eligible weight gain limits, you have to simply log on to www.firsteatright.com. The different permissible ranges and the type of foods and snacks that help you stay within your desired ranges are also shared. In general, it is normal for a woman to gain anywhere between 8-12 kilograms but there are a few of them whose weight gain surpasses all upper limits. Walking helps to regulate your metabolism and burn calories efficiently. Even if you are not walking briskly, it helps to burn calories, but metabolism regulation is absent. If possible, a pregnant lady can try to walk as briskly as possible, choose a slightly hilly path or do squats (20 times) every 5-10 minutes in between her walking session to unlock complete benefits. Remember to do all these only after permission from your physician and only when you feel comfortable doing them.
Hormone secretion: A pregnant woman experiences different emotions simultaneously-she is surrounded by feelings of joy, happiness, excitation, worry and fear throughout her term. Exercise results in endorphin (hormone) secretion which helps to minimize stress and keep the pregnant woman focused with a positive attitude. Walking has been proved to particularly increase endorphin production. The breezy air, the warm sunshine and the surrounding greenery is sure to take off any stress within you and keep you at peace.
Habit for a lifetime: Practicing walking as an exercise regularly prior to childbirth makes the woman continue it after childbirth too. Any habit, god or bad, can be extremely difficult to miss upon and the good ones such as exercise help you reap benefits. Stick to your walking routine by adjusting your timings according to your baby’s needs. Exercising regularly helps to get back in shape and stay relaxed after your little one is born despite back-to-back commitments.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.