Exercising during pregnancy is important to keep you healthy and in shape for childbirth—and swimming is the perfect pregnancy workout. Here are five awesome reasons why:
1. Swimming is a low-to-no-impact activity. Just doing the front crawl, breaststroke or even backstroke laps in the pool helps to work nearly every muscle in your body and gets yours heart rate up for an effective cardiovascular workout with no jarring or impact to your vulnerable joints or your baby.
2. Fewer aches and pains. Buoyancy relieves pressure on the pelvis and on the weight-bearing joints by greatly reducing the effects of gravity. Standing in waist-deep water reduces weight-bearing by 50 percent, and in chest deep water it's reduced by 75 percent (meaning your hips, knees and ankles are supporting only 25 percent of your body's weight). You'll really appreciate this with the extra pregnancy pounds!
3. Water provides resistance to movement. It's like lifting weights without the increased risk of injury. Try this: Squat down in the pool so the water level is at neck-height, and bring your hands together in front of you with your elbows straight. Alternate opening your arms out to the sides and bring hands back together in front. The faster the movement, the more resistance. Support yourself on the side of the pool and do the same movement with the legs. You'll feel the burn!
4. No special equipment or adaption is required. If you have a bathing suit to accommodate your new shape, you're ready for your aquatic workout.
5. Fun for the whole family. You can put your older child in a shaded floatie and use him as a kickboard, pushing him through the water while you do your laps, or have him bobbing beside you as you do standing exercises with your arms and legs. Or have "races" with an older child who can already swim laps alongside you.
To get the most out of a dip in the pool, try to keep moving for at least 20 minutes. You may have to start with 8 or 10 minutes and work your way up to that goal. You can keep moving by switching up your stroke or doing other activities in the pool. Try doing a freestyle lap then breaststroke, then flip over for a more-relaxing backstroke lap. If you're not a swimmer, you can just practice walking against the water's resistance and doing arm and leg exercises.
Remember, the faster the movement, the more resistance so you can increase intensity by picking up the pace. Always let your doctor or midwife know if you are planning to start a new prenatal exercise routine.