A woman’s body changes in miraculous ways during pregnancy, so taking care of one’s health while pregnant is paramount. After all, you’ve got a precious little life growing inside. In addition to eating well, exercise is a wonderful way to keep your heart and insides feeling healthy while pregnant. Here are 6 pregnancy workouts to keep you healthy and physically fit as you prepare for the arrival of your bundle of joy.
6 Pregnancy Workouts To Keep You
Healthy & Fit During Motherhood
Many women are unsure of which pregnancy workouts are safe, or how to go about exercising at all. The good news is that it is ok to exercise during pregnancy. In fact, pregnancy workouts are encouraged. However, if you’ve never exercised before, then pregnancy is not the time to pick up kettlebells and battle ropes, or run a marathon for that matter. It’s best to take it slow, but be consistent. As only you know your fitness level, keep that in mind as you take inspiration from the 6 pregnancy workouts below.
Walking is one of the best pregnancy workouts around. Walking is low-impact and good for cardiovascular health. If you’ve never exercised before, walking is usually the first step (literally) in any recommended exercise program.
The benefits of a good walk are numerous. In addition to boosting energy and relieving certain pregnancy discomforts, walking is great for stress relief. An added benefit, walking helps to burn calories and keep excess weight gain from happening during pregnancy. If you do no other pregnancy workouts, then walk!
To help keep you motivated during pregnancy, sign up for a 5k or 10k and instead of running it, walk it instead! You might have as much fun, if not more, taking it slow and taking advantage of all the picture opportunities you’d ordinarily miss if you were aiming for a personal record.
Pilates is a great way to build strength, condition, and tone. If you’re able to take a studio class on a reformer machine, know that a Pilates workout is easily modified for pregnant women. Pilates classes are the types of pregnancy workouts that an expecting mother can do through the final days of pregnancy.
When it comes to pregnancy workouts, Pilates has a lot of benefits. Similar to walking, Pilates is a low-impact exercise. Pilates, pregnant or not, is great for developing core strength. The reason why this is increasingly important for an expectant mom, is that Pilates strengthens stomach, back, and pelvic floor muscles. These are all the body parts that are engaged during labor, so strengthening them pre-labor helps to ease labor and delivery.
As a mom-to-be progresses into the third trimester, there are certain Pilates exercises she will want to avoid. Any exercise that requires a prone position (on the back) can interrupt a baby’s supply. It’s also important to avoid extra strain on the abdominal muscles. Core strength is important, but not at the expense of the abdominal muscles separating, a medical condition known as diastasis. That being said, a Pilates instructor can coach a mom-to-be on how to do Pilates safely as she progresses through pregnancy.
If you’re already a runner, most doctors will sign off on your continued hitting the pavement. Of course, with every step, you should be watching for potholes and other potential tripping hazards. The last thing you’d want to do is twist an ankle or fall during pregnancy workouts. Nevertheless, as far as pregnancy workouts go, the benefits of running are numerous. They range from those which benefit the mother (like reducing pregnancy-related diseases such as gestational diabetes) to those which benefit the baby (like improved stress tolerance or advanced neurobehavioral function).
For a runner, one of the surprising benefits of being pregnant is increased blood volume and it’s related effects on a woman’s cardiovascular system. For some runners, this may help them to tackle hills along their routes. And in post-pregnancy, they may even gain a performance boost as their bodies operate more efficiently.
While you can still sign up for a race or two, keep your distance from the pack. It’s easy to get elbowed or sidestepped in a race and that’s the last thing you want to happen when pregnant.
If you were a hiker before you had a baby on board, then there’s no reason you can’t hike once pregnant. A good hiker knows that they should always carry water, wear sunscreen, take breaks as needed, and turn back if the conditions take a turn in the wrong direction. Pregnancy workouts call for much of the same preparations and precautions.
Short duration and half-day hikes are a great way to stay fit while pregnant. Hikes are also a happy medium between walking and running since they burn more calories and get your heart pumping a bit more than a leisurely stroll. However, it’s incredibly important to watch your step along the trails. This includes paying attention to foot placement, rocks, divots, and crevasses that are part of the terrain.
In addition to cardio pregnancy workouts, weight lifting is incredibly important to build into your fitness routine. When it comes to exercising while pregnant, you not only want to focus on feeling good and healthy, but you should also start focusing on building the muscles that a strong mama needs to lift all of that baby gear.
A few muscle groups that you’ll want to focus on include:
- Quadriceps and Glutes for squatting low to pick up -you name it- while balancing a baby in your arms.
- Biceps for carrying for the car seat in one arm and the diaper bag in the other.
- Back muscles to prevent back injuries from lifting babies in and out of the crib.
- Shoulders for lifting babies overhead while falling in love with their chubby rolls and happy little faces.
If the notion of free weights has got you shook, then consider using assisted machines, but, you’ll want to steer clear of any machine that requires that you lay on your belly or back, or lift weights overhead. As with any workout, listen to your body and if an exercise doesn’t feel right, seek instruction or move on to the next machine.
Water Aerobics and Swimming
One of the main reasons that water aerobics and swimming are some of the best pregnancy workouts around, is that water helps to support the belly and relieves pressure from the spine and pelvis. Water provides natural resistance, so if you have access to a pool and want to forego strength training, water aerobics and swimming are a good alternative to and provide many of the same benefits as lifting weights.
One of the reasons to consider swimming and water aerobics as one of your pregnancy workouts is that just being in the water helps to reduce swelling. It’s no secret that pregnant women inevitably experience swelling- of the feet, hands, and other extremities. Rather than turn to drugs for relief, aquatic fitness can have diuretic and therapeutic benefits for conditions like pregnancy-induced edema.
Water aerobics and lap swimming are often offered at community pools, YMCA’s, etc. but, if you have your own pool, you can pick up foam water dumbbells from a sporting goods store or on Amazon and choreograph your own aerobics routine in the pool.
After the baby arrives, it’s easy to slip into full-on mommy mode and neglect your health and fitness routine. Just as you engaged in pregnancy workouts before the baby’s arrival, so should you continue to exercise after the baby is born. Continue to practice good self-care through exercise and fitness and make YOU a priority. Doctors will usually provide clearance for more intense physical activity anywhere from 6-8 weeks post-delivery, so heed the doctor’s advice on when to begin. Until they give the green light, remember to prioritize taking care of yourself and take your adorable bundle of joy for a spin in the stroller, while embracing your new role as “mom.”
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