Walking is a good exercise for pregnancy, especially for women who were previously not active. Walking helps with circulation of your increased blood volume, preventing varicose veins especially if you are usually sitting most of the day. If you do sit most of the day, take time at least once per hour to get up and stretch and walk around for a few minutes.
Pregnant women who are new to walking regularly should start slowly. Try walking for ten to fifteen minutes at a time at least once a day. Walk on level ground. After a week, add an additional ten minutes to your routine. As you get comfortable with walking for exercise, add more time or try more difficult terrain. Be cautious when walking on hills because your balance may be off because of your pregnancy. Work up to walking between thirty minutes to an hour each day.
Walking helps the joints to stay flexible so that the hips can spread when the time comes to deliver your baby. Pregnancy naturally relaxes the ligaments so you may feel some mild pain or stretching in the hips or pelvic area. If you experience severe pain, stop walking and ask your doctors advice on an exercise regimen. Some women who don’t tolerate walking during pregnancy may benefit from activities such as water aerobics.
Walking with a partner can be helpful as a stress reliever or conversation starter. Use walking with your partner as a time to bring up fears, and other thoughts without being afraid of being ignored. Walking alone can also be helpful to your mental state. For more information on how walking can work as a couples therapy, read this article.
Cautions for the pregnant pedestrian include:
-Always carry water and stay hydrated
-If you feel dizzy or light headed, take a break. If this occurs more than once, let your doctor or midwife know. They can recommend changes to your routine to relieve these problems
-Be aware of your surroundings- traffic, uneven terrain, and even other people can be dangerous
-If you have been ordered on bed rest or have a high risk pregnancy you should not walk unless your doctor has given you permission, and only for as long as they recommend
-Walking can increase the rate of real contractions and speed up labor. If you are in labor or at term and want to walk, stay close to your transportation or walk around the hospital after checking in
-If you walk alone, make sure you have a cell phone with you, and try to plan your route. Let someone you trust know what route you plan on taking.
Get good supportive and comfortable shoes. Only wear the so-called “fitness shoes” if you have already been wearing them before you became pregnant. These shoes are designed to be slightly unstable to make your muscles work harder, and you may lose your balance if you start wearing them when you’re pregnant. Also, remember that your shoe size may be slightly larger when you are pregnant.