Regardless of fitness level prior to becoming pregnant, water aerobics is a safe, enjoyable and even therapeutic way for women experiencing healthy, normal pregnancies to exercise throughout their entire pregnancy, right up to the actual delivery date!
When movement and exercise are combined with water’s natural resistance (ten times the resistance of air), the advantages to participating in a water aerobics program during pregnancy skyrocket. One of the simple joys of aqua aerobics is that because the water is doing much of the work of supporting the extra baby weight, joints and muscles get a break while at the same time getting stronger! Best of all, aqua aerobics is customizable to include a variety of moves for any individual.
Not only do aching muscles and joints get some relief by the “cushion” of the water, but a whole host of healthy things are happening to the rest of your body as the result of a low impact, aqua aerobics program during a healthy, normal pregnancy. Here is just a sampling of what research has shown on the positive impacts of aqua aerobics during pregnancy:
- Healthy weight gain/weight control without dieting
- Increased energy
- Overall muscle tone to the legs and arms due to water resistance
- Improved sleep: Going to bed rested from moderate exercise, not just exhausted from being pregnant, is a plus!
- Reduced anxiety, including onset of post-partum depression
- Reduced risk of gestational diabetes by up to 27%
- Improved cardiovascular performance
- Increased pulmonary (lung capacity) performance
- Improved muscle strength, especially the core abs and lower back muscles essential to labor and delivery
Speaking of labor and delivery…
There are many studies connecting water aerobics during pregnancy with a reduction of labor pain, and consequently, the need for epidural-type pain blockers during childbirth. In a study published in the medical journal Reproductive Health, it was suggested that aerobic water activity during childbirth greatly reduced a woman’s need for pain medication during labor, with only 27% of the studied aquatic aerobics group asking for pain drugs, compared to 66% of those who did not partake in water aerobics during pregnancy.
It’s important to understand the amazing benefits of simply being in the water during pregnancy. One of those benefits is the break a pregnant body gets from gravity. Water’s buoyancy properties mean that belly, back and leg muscles, as well as joints, all benefit from the support of the water. In fact, water’s buoyancy supports a whopping 90% of a person’s total body weight! In other words, a 130-pound person weighs just 13 pounds in the water!
Muscle and joint relief aren’t the only things to be gained by regularly spending time in the water during pregnancy (not to mention the benefits of actually moving around):
- Eases edema (swelling due to water retention)
- Lessens constipation
- Lowers core body temperature
- Increases energy/reduces fatigue
- Lowers stress/promotes relaxation
Most fitness clubs and community centers with pools offer water aerobics classes for expectant moms. Additionally, instructional DVDs are very useful for practicing in the privacy of your own backyard. Many women begin in a group class at a gym, for both the social benefits and to learn proper technique. Once a routine is understood and mastered, there’s nothing preventing you from using your own backyard pool, or even a friend’s.
Water Aerobics + Pregnancy = A Healthier, Stronger Mom!
What does all of this add up to? A healthier you when it is time to give birth. Imagine being in just as great, if not better shape when you get ready to deliver than when you became pregnant! Aquatic aerobics is the perfect, low-impact, energizing and healthy choice for soon-to-be-moms!