Why should you make an effort to go for long walks while you are pregnant? What are the benefits of walking during pregnancy?
Walking tones muscles
A good walk isn't for wimps, at all! Many women who have been told to take up walking because they can't do high-impact aerobics any longer feel like they're being told pregnancy is an illness and they've been relegated to something their more fits selves would never do. Walking is actually an excellent way to build up nearly all muscles in the legs, but also in the buttocks and lower back. Those who have a correct posture while walking also work their abdominal muscles, and if you swing your arms, those muscles get toned too.
Walking fights pregnancy symptoms you don't like
Walking raises the "good cholesterol" while lowering the "bad cholesterol". Walking helps regulate mood swings, fights fatigue, remedies pregnancy constipation and burns calories to avoid weight gain. If you walk outdoors, which most people do, you also combat morning sickness and boost your vitamin D levels, which is very important during pregnancy. Doesn't that sound like just the solution most women need to typical pregnancy signs and symptoms? There are even more benefits to walking, though! This everyday activity doesn't only fight pregnancy symptoms during pregnancy, it also helps prevent linger pregnancy signs after your baby is born. Going for a brisk walk of at least 30 minutes a day will reduce the chances you are left with a permanent jelly belly after you've given birth. Of course, you can carry on walking as soon as your baby is born (if you had an uncomplicated birth), with the little one in a stroller or baby carrier.
Walking is good for your heart
Studies have shown that exercise levels, rather than weight, indicate how likely a woman is to have a heart attack. Walking works on both these things, however! You will be burning calories, improving your circulation, and boosting your good cholesterol all at once! Walking is a gentle but fantastic cardio exercise that won't cause you to overheat, which is excellent during pregnancy. A friend of mine, who had always suffered from hypertension in pregnancy, took up walking when she conceived her fourth child. She didn't have to go on blood pressure medication that pregnancy! This is, of course, anecdotal evidence. But walking really has the potential to reduce dangerously high blood pressure.
Walking regularly may mean you have an easier birth
You've almost certainly heard the now cliche analogy giving birth to a baby, apparently, is like running a marathon. I don't know about that, because I've never even trained for a marathon. What is obvious, though, is that you build stamina through practice. Walking obviously doesn't work the same muscles a woman needs to give birth, but it does strengthen her physically and prepares her for the kind of endurance sport labor and birth really is. Anyone who has ever started a new workout regime knows how hard it is at first your whole body can hurt after 10 leg curls! Keep that same regime up for a few weeks, and any exercise you do will definitely become easier. You build endurance regardless of which muscle group you are using. Of course, there are plenty of great prenatal exercises. If you walk regularly, you will prepare yourself for labor and birth. You may like to look into prenatal yoga or swimming.
Walking: what to avoid
Pregnant women, like anyone else, should listen to their body and take a break when something doesn't feel right. When you are pregnant, your joints are looser and you are more likely to sustain sports injuries. Your center of gravity will also shift at some point during the second trimester, and as your bump grows, you will be more likely to fall. Some precautions you should take when you are walking during pregnancy are:
- Take regular breaks.
- Use good walking shoes to prevent injuries.
- Stick to safe terrains.
- Always have a bottle of water with you, and use it!