Pretty much everybody would like more energy, flexibility and core strength. But for pregnant women, these ideas take on another dimension. A strong core, for example, can help with every aspect of pregnancy and childbirth — reduced back pain, easier delivery, quicker recovery.
Newly pregnant women (especially if it’s your first time) are especially concerned about finding safe forms of exercise. The general rule is, if you’ve been doing something all along, then it’s usually okay to continue through the first few months of pregnancy, or until it starts to feel painful or uncomfortable. For example, if you’re an avid runner, there’s no reason you can’t continue this through pregnancy. You’ll have to account for lower energy levels though, and adjust accordingly.
Another rule of thumb is that pregnancy is not the time to introduce something brand new into your fitness routine. If you’ve never lifted a weight before, don’t start now. Your body is going through enough change – and it needs to focus its energy on THAT.
Depending on how you feel during pregnancy, some types of exercise might be better than others. Or, you might just be too tired (or nauseated) to do anything. That’s okay too. Just do what you can and focus on taking care of yourself. Rest is your friend.
Some things to be aware of when exercising pregnant:
1. Internal temperature gets out of whack during this time. If you’re doing cardio in the gym, it’s easier to overheat. Take a one-minute break every 5-10 minutes, and consistently check in with how hot you feel.
2. Many trainers omit lunges from their pregnant clients’ routine. Your hips open up, affecting the hip-knee alignment. Since your joints are already looser, it’s harder to stabilize a single-leg or lateral movement. Check with a trainer before including lunges in your program.
3. Speaking of loose joints, stretching is something else to do carefully during pregnancy. Your joints receive an increase in synovial fluid at this time, which makes them looser and more flexible – you know, to prepare for what’s coming. Ease into stretches gently, increasing your range of motion slowly and in stages.
1. Swimming. Any kind of exercise you can do in the water is great. In the pool, you can do all kinds of resistance and cardio work without as much danger of overheating, and with zero stress on the joints. Also, as your belly grows, your back will appreciate some weightless time in the water.
2. Walking. Walking is easy on the knees, easily monitored and safe enough for a beginner. If you’re not a regular exerciser, this is a great place to start when you’re expecting. Make sure you wear supportive shoes and stay close enough to home in case you get tired.
3. Aerobics/Dancing. Look for lower impact classes that don’t involve a lot of spinning or jumping. Many facilities offer specific classes for expecting women.
4. Yoga. Yoga is great for relieving pressure on the joints and maintaining or increasing flexibility. Most forms of yoga should be safe for you, but you can also find several pre-natal yoga classes in your area.
4. Kegel exercise. Yup, the old standby. You can do these anytime, anywhere. Strengthening these muscles helps with delivery and recovery. They’re totally free, incredibly effective, and no one will ever know you’re doing them.