Guest Post: Is Too Much Walking Bad During Pregnancy?
It wasn’t that long ago that pregnancy was seen as a time to basically do as little as possible. Women were encouraged to put their feet up and cut back on nearly any and all exercise. Fortunately, we’ve come a long way from those days, and doctors actively advocate their pregnant patients to keep active for a healthy pregnancy and happy baby.
Still, exercising for two is not without it’s risks. Some activities, like contact sports and anything requiring superb balance skills, should be avoided, but walking is one of the most approachable and beneficial ways to stay active.
Benefits of Walking throughout Your Pregnancy
Keeps Your Heart and Muscles Strong
I always tell my expecting clients that they are training for an endurance event. Labor is longer than a marathon! While it won’t be a breeze, the stronger you are the easier labor will be and the quicker you will recover. Walking is a low impact yet weight bearing activity, meaning you’re able to strengthen your bones and muscles without the pounding of running or other high impact activities. Power walk or add quicker bursts throughout your walk and get your heart pumping as well!
Lucky are the women who have little discomfort as their belly expands! Your body has never changed so much so quickly as it does while you’re carrying, and with that comes typical aches and pains. From leg cramps to constipation to nausea, walking can help ease these common discomforts associated with pregnancy.
Lessens Your Chance of Gestational Diabetes and Preeclampsia
Preeclampsia – a condition 8% of expecting mothers experience – and gestational diabetes are a concern for pregnant women, and while walking will not completely eliminate the risk, it has been shown to reduce the chances. Walking not only helps slow weight gain, but positively affects your blood pressure and blood sugar levels. (WebMD.com)
Helps Regulate Weight Gain
Like any exercise, walking burns calories which helps keep your weight in check for a healthy pregnancy. Walking throughout your pregnancy is a great way to start or continue exercising even when your energy is low.
Can Be Done Anywhere, By Everyone
Walking does not require any equipment or other people to perform, allowing you to walk year round (treadmills are great for when the weather is bad!), solo or with friends.
Clearly there are a ton of benefits to incorporating walks into your routine while expecting, still, safety is the main concern for you and your baby. Here are guidelines to keep in mind, but you should – as with any exercise – talk with your doctor about your plans.
Safety Precautions For Walking
Slow is relative to where your activity level was pre-pregnancy, meaning if you were regularly running 3 miles a few times a week, your starting place will be different than someone who is sedentary. If you are new to exercise, start with 30 minutes a few times a week, working your way up to most if not all days of the week.
No matter how often or how long you walk, stay at a conversational pace, one where you can talk freely without gasping for air every few words.
Don’t Get Competitive
This is not a time to push yourself. It will be difficult, but try not to compare your pregnancy fitness with your pre-pregnancy fitness. Your goal now is to continue being active, not to see how fast or long you can go.
Stay Cool and Hydrated
Your body is working overtime, and overheating is easy to do. Dress in layers you can easily shed if need be, and opt for the treadmill or indoor track on hot and humid days. If you feel you’re overheating, sit down and cut your walk short.
You should be drinking more water now that you’re pregnant, and adding exercise to the mix ups that amount. Water not only helps you absorb and transports vital nutrients to your baby, but also helps keep you from overheating and eases constipation and hemorrhoids that are common during pregnancy.
Listen To Your Body
Everybody and every pregnancy is different. Walking 45 minutes a day during your first pregnancy may feel like too much during your second. Listen to you body more than you do when it’s just you, do not stubbornly push through anything! If you feel overly fatigued, slow down or take a break. If you feel any cramping or pain, stop.
Select the Right Shoes
Being pregnant your point of gravity changes especially after mid of pregnancy when you start to show up the bump. The importance of the right shoes increases than ever before.
Also remember you might see swelling on feet and ankle during last trimester of pregnancy. In such case your previous sports/running shoes may not be comfortable to you. With daily use we tend to ignore such changes which might bring pain and health issue.
Make a Pregnancy Walking Plan
Being consistent is very important in maintaining fitness be it for an athlete or a pregnant woman. Going for a walk today for 2 hours and nothing for next 2-3 days is not a healthy schedule. Make a realistic plan which will not make you feel like skipping it.
Is Too Much Walking Bad During Pregnancy?
Nothing is good if the balance is not there. Depending on your pre-pregnancy fitness routine and your current health it depends how much walking is too much for you. Usually according to fitness experts 45 mins walk/day during first 2 trimesters and 30 mins of walk per day during last trimester is enough for pregnant women.
Exercise is highly recommended by doctors for a healthy and successful pregnancy, and walking is the most accessible form out there! Pay attention to how your body feels and keep communication open with your doctor through each trimester, and you’re sure to enjoy all walking has to offer!