Exercise For Stretch Marks Prevention – Gradual Pregnancy Weight Gain Is Half The Battle
There is a way to reduce the severity of stretch marks that is enjoyable, feels great and has many extra perks: exercise for stretch marks prevention.
How Can Exercise Help Stretch Marks
While they are not yet completely understood, stretch marks develop in the dermis due to a combination of fluctuating hormone levels and physical stress on the skin.
Hormone flux is known to hamper the fibroblast cells in the dermis from creating sufficient collagen and elastin to maintain smooth even skin, while pressures from rapid growth produce physical stress on certain areas of the body to produce stretch marks.
While we can’t do too much about hormone levels, especially during pregnancy, we can take steps to control pregnancy weight gain.
When pregnant, we want to gain weight, but we want to gain weight from the growth of our baby and minimize excess deposits of fat on the belly, hips, thighs, breasts, and butt. Regular exercise is one of the best ways to ensure gradual healthy weight gain.
6 Favorite Exercises For Stretch Marks Prevention
There are a number of good exercise activities for pregnant women that are healthy, gentle, and even relaxing. Here is a list of some of our favorites.
Yoga is an excellent form of exercise for stretch marks, and one that helps to relieve stress in addition to preventing weight gain.
There are numerous prenatal yoga classes around just for pregnant women. Not only is it good exercise, but it’s a good chance to get out and chat with other moms-to-be.
A word of caution: avoid the “hot” varieties of yoga unless you’re experienced. Overheating is easier to do when pregnant and could lead to heat exhaustion.
2. Tai Chi
Tai Chi, an ancient Chinese martial art performed in slow deliberate motions, is another gentle form of exercise for pregnant women. Like yoga, it can be done with a group or alone. It keeps the body limber, reduces stress, and increases blood flow throughout the body.
Swimming is another favorite for many pregnant women. There is obviously no impact and in the third trimester when most women really feel the uncomfortable weight of their baby belly, floating in a pool takes the pressure off and feels fantastic.
4. Strength Training
Strength training is a good low impact workout that tones and strengthens the muscles. It’s a good idea to start with light weights and higher repetitions. Avoid any straining with heavy weights and always use good technique – slow and deliberate movements.
5. Low Impact Aerobics
Anything that gets your heart rate elevated and gets you moving will only help your overall health and well-being. While pregnant, and especially if you are new to exercise, keep it low impact. There are a number of low impact aerobic classes at local recreation centers and gyms that cater to expecting moms.
As added motivation, if you sign up for a class, it’s easier to work into your schedule because you know when and where. As well, you’re more motivated to exercise since you’ve committed to attend the class.
6. Walking or Running
Walking is an underrated form of exercise. It’s great for blood flow, bones, joints, and the cardiovascular system. All you need is a comfortable pair of shoes and half an hour a day.
If you ran consistently before becoming pregnant, you should be able to continue running in the first and second trimesters. Consult with your physician about running in the third trimester or consider walking instead.
For more reasons to exercise during your pregnancy, see our six benefits of exercise beyond stretch mark prevention.
5 Tips For Starting A Pregnancy Exercise Program
Before starting any new exercise program when pregnant, be sure to consider the following:
1. Consult Your Physician
If you’re a regular exerciser and there are no complications with your pregnancy, it should be all right for you to continue. If you’re just starting a program, check with your healthcare provider and let her know you intend to begin an exercise program.
2. Warm Up and Cool Down
Exercise is more strenuous when pregnant – your body is already busy growing a baby. Take 5 or 10 minutes for a good warm up and cool down. A warm up will prepare your heart rate and muscles, easing you into the workout. A cool down will ease your heart rate back down to normal and help avoid sore muscles the next day.
3. Keep It Gentle
Don’t over do it and exercise to exhaustion. The goal is gentle movement to maintain good blood flow throughout the body. Listen to your body. If it hurts, you’re pushing to hard.
As well, avoid sports such as mountain biking, rollerblading, surfing, climbing, skiing, etc. Any sport where there is greater potential to fall at speed and sustain serious injury – especially in the second and third trimester when your center of gravity is changing.
4. Eat Enough Calories
Exercise burns more calories, so it’s essential to take in extra. Again, it’s important to listen to your body and it’s never more true than when you are pregnant. If you’re constantly hungry and craving certain foods, you probably need the calories. Your physician will help you monitor your weight as your pregnancy progresses.
5. Stay Hydrated – Drink Plenty of Water
Drink enough water to avoid dehydration. Dehydration can increase the chances of overheating (bad for you and baby) especially when your metabolism is already in overdrive. In addition to the regular eight to ten glasses of water per day, take in at least an extra glass or two before and after exercise.