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Maintaining fitness during pregnancy has numerous physical and mental health benefits, and antenatal classes are convenient, comfortable ways to meet the specific exercise needs of expecting mothers. Antenatal fitness classes can encompass a wide variety of workouts, from cardio and aerobics classes to yoga or aquatics instruction. Regardless of what type of exercise a pregnant woman chooses, taking an antenatal class helps ensure that the instructor is familiar with the demands and restrictions of pregnancy.
Most antenatal fitness classes bear significant resemblance to fitness classes for the general public. Pregnant women are capable of exercising relatively vigorously early in pregnancy, especially if they were in good shape before becoming pregnant. As a result, there are heart-pumping antenatal fitness classes such as step aerobics, weight training, or group running and walking. These classes help strengthen muscles and improve cardiovascular and circulatory health, which will be particularly important for carrying extra body weight later in pregnancy as well as during delivery.
Other types of antenatal fitness classes are lower-impact workouts. Yoga is an excellent example because it improves posture, breath control, and flexibility while also building muscle. Choosing low impact activities for antenatal fitness classes is helpful for expecting mothers who are new to fitness or who are unable to perform higher-intensity workouts due to discomfort or per their doctor’s instructions. Antenatal yoga is also considered to be highly meditative and enlightening, which makes it a calming, reassuring, and confidence-building class for pregnant women.
Water aerobics is another low impact workout that is ideal for antenatal fitness classes. Swimming or completing other exercises in water reduces pressure on joints while adding enough resistance to strengthen muscles, and swimming can be an excellent cardiovascular workout. Some pregnant women might be hesitant to don a swimsuit, or even exercise in any capacity, if they are feeling vulnerable during pregnancy, but an added benefit of taking antenatal fitness classes is that all the other participants can empathize and act as a support network.
Women who were not active before becoming pregnant should generally avoid high intensity or difficult antenatal fitness classes during pregnancy. Walking is a great way to maintain a moderate level of fitness and reap the benefits of exercise during pregnancy. Even though walking is not technically a “class,” heading to the treadmill or hitting the streets with other expecting mothers from a Lamaze class or antenatal care group can have the same physical and mental payoffs.