Pregnancy doesn't have to mean taking a break from fitness. As long as there are no complications, maintaining the activity level you are accustomed to should be fine. The key word is maintaining. This is not the time to try for records, and it isn't the time to pick up a new sport. If you have any concerns about your normal routine, speak with your physician.
So, what if you haven't been working out but want to be more active during your pregnancy? Or what if fatigue and morning sickness are making your normal routine too challenging? Some exercises work for most pregnant women, regardless of their fitness level.
It is hard to argue with brisk walking. It is inexpensive and doesn't require special equipment. It also gives you the opportunity to get outside, where fresh air can help boost your mood and energy. The one caution with walking is to invest in supportive athletic shoes. You should always do this, but it is even more important during pregnancy, when the ligaments soften and you need additional support.
If you have access to a place where you can swim some laps, you are in luck. Swimming is a great exercise for pregnant women. The water is supportive and increases buoyancy, allowing you to feel more agile than you do on land, particularly in the final weeks of your pregnancy. Use caution around the pool area, however. Shifts in balance can make you more susceptible to slipping.
Not much of a swimmer? You can still enjoy the benefits of a water workout with water aerobics. The water helps support your weight while you move, and the motion can relax your muscles and ease tension. Both swimming and water aerobics have an advantage over other types of exercise: working out in water reduces water retention, which is a common, uncomfortable side effect of pregnancy. The water also makes it easier to keep your body temperature in a safe range while exercising.
Low-impact aerobics is a good cardiovascular exercise during pregnancy. Avoid jumping or step classes, but dance aerobics and other options that don't require stomping or bouncing provide an effective workout without wearing you out.
Yoga during pregnancy can help ease anxiety and depression and reduce stress. While poses like inversions should be avoided, others can be modified to work for you throughout most of your pregnancy. The goal here is to maintain your existing yoga practice; don't attempt to master balance poses that you struggled with or never got around to before pregnancy.
Your balance changes throughout pregnancy, even from week to week, so take care with these poses. As your stomach grows, avoid exercises that compress your abdomen. Prenatal yoga classes can be a great way to socialize with other expectant mothers as well as ensure you are performing exercises that are safe for your stage of pregnancy, as the class will be taught by a trained professional.
Use common sense when selecting your hikes. Stay away from rocky, uneven trails and outfit yourself in supportive hiking shoes or boots. You should be careful to stay hydrated doing any exercise while pregnant, but be particularly cautious when hiking. The weather may warm up more than you anticipated or the trail may be more demanding than you expected. Always carry a snack and extra water.
Pilates is a low-impact workout that leaves you feeling stretched and relaxed. For women who did not exercise regularly before pregnancy, this can be a good choice. As with any exercise, form is important. Because the movements in Pilates are so small, it is easy to perform exercises incorrectly. It is best to work with a Pilates instructor, either one on one or in a group setting. As with yoga, avoid exercises that compress the stomach during the latter part of your pregnancy. If you can find an instructor with specific training in prenatal fitness, that is ideal.
While you should avoid heavy lifting during pregnancy, there is no reason to give up on weight training entirely. In fact, hitting the weights will come in handy after birth, when you will find yourself doing plenty of tasks while holding your baby. Having a strong core and upper body will prepare you for a year or more of carting around your child.
Stick with light weights, and perform a higher number of reps to get your workout in. Listen to your body, and don't do any exercise that feels uncomfortable.
The elliptical machine is a low-impact choice that allows you to get in a solid workout without the pounding of jogging. Be careful stepping on and off of the machine, particularly as you get further into your pregnancy. The elliptical machine can make it difficult to judge the intensity of your workout. Keep a bottle of water handy and make sure you take frequent sips.
For many women, the stationary bicycle is the best exercise option during pregnancy. The bike supports your weight, easing the pressure on your joints. Unlike a road bike, there is no risk of falling. Keep in mind that you should watch your intensity. This is not the time to jump into spinning or other high-intensity cycling classes for the first time.
Whatever workouts you plan to try while pregnant, be sure to check with your OB-GYN to ensure you don't have any conditions or high-risk factors that make certain exercises unsuitable.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.