One of the best things you can do for your pregnancy is to start, or maintain, a healthy lifestyle. This can include anything from seeing your healthcare professional regularly to being intentional about what you ingest during pregnancy. Another important aspect of health is exercise— implementing or maintaining your pregnancy workouts.
It is recommended that women who have a normal, healthy pregnancy should get 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
A pregnancy workout offers an array of benefits. Some of the benefits of a pregnancy workout include:
- Reduced risk of preeclampsia
- Reduced risk of gestational diabetes
- Reduced risk of developing hypertensive disorders in pregnancy
- Reduced pregnancy discomfort
However, you may have some concerns about the intensity of your pregnancy workout, or concerns about what is available to you as a pregnant woman. After all, not all intensities of workout options are safe for pregnant women. Luckily, there are many workout options available to you as you go through pregnancy, and many people have already modified or adapted certain workout options for pregnant women.
This is probably the easiest and most relaxing pregnancy exercise. This is especially helpful for women who did not exercise regularly prior to pregnancy. Going for a walk at a park provides you with the chance to get some fresh air and sunshine. It is also a fun option to include someone else; it’s a good way to catch up with a friend while walking the trail at your local park. Just make sure you have good shoes and a firm footing. Also make sure to avoid trails that are graveled, rocky or unpaved.
Some women may have had a more rigorous workout regime prior to pregnancy, and while these women will still need to adapt for pregnancy, they can still enjoy a higher-intensity cardio workout. If you were a runner prior to pregnancy, light jogging (as long as it is cleared by your doctor) is a perfectly acceptable pregnancy workout.
A good way to monitor the intensity of your run is “the talking rule.” As long as you can speak comfortably, your intensity level is most likely acceptable. As with walking, be aware of your terrain, and try to stay on even ground.
Prenatal yoga is a commonly recommended pregnancy workout due to its low intensity, low stress and holistic benefits for expecting mothers. Like many workout options, you will need to adapt yoga, as certain poses and stretches will not be possible or recommended for pregnant women, such as poses where falling is a high risk. You can find good prenatal yoga videos online, or you can sign up for classes at a local gym.
Spin Class (Stationary Bikes)
Perhaps you enjoyed bike rides before pregnancy, but you don’t want to risk hitting a bump or falling off your bike. If this is the case, a spin class may be a good option for you. Even if you are new to cycling or spin class, this is still a safe, fun option as long as you pace yourself appropriately and start off with shorter routines.
It is also important to stay seated on the bike, as standing increases intensity and risk of falling or joint pain. As in all exercises during pregnancy, the ability to have a conversation, without gasping for breath, is a good indicator your intensity level is good.
Weights and resistance training are also an option, as long as you are careful and use appropriately sized weights. Lifting heavy weights is not recommended, or safe, during pregnancy. Five-pound hand weights, or even resistance bands, are recommended for muscle toning during pregnancy.
A good policy is to increase repetition, rather than increasing weight during pregnancy. It is also a good idea for weight and resistance training to be done under supervision. Make sure to use good technique, as well as, slow and controlled movements.
Swimming (Water Aerobics)
Swimming and water aerobics are some of the best pregnancy workouts expecting women can take advantage of getting their routine exercise. Water exercises support your body weight, relieve stress and tension on your legs and back, and avoid the potential of tripping, or falling, that may come with other exercises.
These are great ways to elevate your heart rate while providing relief to muscles and your skeletal system that are constantly under strain carrying the additional weight of your growing baby.
These are just a few of the pregnancy workout options available to expecting women. No matter what workout option you choose, always make sure to clear it with your doctor before starting, in case there are specific precautions you may need to take. After having it cleared by a doctor, you can choose whatever workout option works best for you.
No matter what you choose, make certain to listen to your body and do not attempt to strain or push yourself. If you experience any dizziness or breathlessness, then stop your workout immediately. If something doesn’t feel right after a workout, then consult with your doctor.
More helpful articles:
Jordan, R. (2014). Exercise, Recreational and occupational issues, and intimate relationships in pregnancy. In Prenatal and postnatal care: A woman-centered approach (pp. 274-279). Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.
Harms, R. (2004). Mayo Clinic guide to a healthy pregnancy (1st ed.). New York: HarperResource.