Exercise Suggestions for Women During Pregnancy
When a woman gets pregnant, they owe it to themselves and their unborn baby to do what’s necessary to stay healthy. A woman who stays healthy during pregnancy greatly increases the probability they will experience a safe and successful pregnancy all the way to term.
The reference to staying healthy involves both good nutrition and exercise. Yes, it’s very important that a pregnant woman eat right and take in all of the vitamins and nutrients the baby will need for proper development. It’s equally important that they don’t eat unhealthy foods, take drugs, smoke, or drink alcohol. Most doctors will provide a list of the nutrition DOs and DON’Ts during pregnancy.
As for prenatal workouts, most doctors will recommend that women stay as active as possible during their pregnancy. It’s important for their heart and muscle health as part of maintaining “pregnancy fitness.” If there were to be extenuating circumstances that would make exercising a potential problem, doctors will generally disclose such information.
If you are interested in this information, might we assume you are pregnant or at least trying to get pregnant? If so, we congratulate you and wish you well. If you are already pregnant, you are probably starting to experience changes in your body. You might be experiencing things like swelling in your ankles, bloating, constipation, and backaches. All of these temporary ailments are common and nothing to worry about. Surprisingly, a good exercise program during pregnancy is exactly what the doctor should order.
With that in mind, we want to offer you some information about exercising during pregnancy and pregnancy exercises you might want to consider. In the sections below, we will cover these topics in great depth for your benefit.
How much exercising you should be doing during pregnancy?
If you need a number to hang your hat on, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that pregnant women try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. Believe it or not, that recommendation applies all the way through pregnancy. Of course, changes in exercises will be required along the way as the body goes through its physical and physiological changes.
In case you are wondering, the best way to determine if you are getting 30 minutes of exercise is to monitor the amount of time your body is in motion and your heart rate is increasing. That’s a good gauge that your body is getting some kind of useful benefit from an exercise. By the way, if you feel you can endure more than 30 minutes, give it a go. As long as you stay safe and don’t overdo it with strenuous exercises, more is better. This is what fit pregnant women do to stay fit and healthy until delivery.
Is it safe for me to actively exercise during pregnancy?
Based on what we said about getting at least 30 minutes a day of exercise, yes, it is safe for you to be getting exercise while pregnant. We will even go so far as to say it really is necessary for you to exercise as long as there are no health issues that would keep you from doing so safely.
Instead of worrying about exercising, you would want to show good judgment about what kind of exercises you decide to do. Keep in mind that your body changes will dictate the progression of your exercise during your pregnancy. As time goes on, you will likely need to adjust your prenatal workout plan to accommodate the size and shape of your body.
If you are not sure how to create a pregnancy-safe workout plan, we recommend that you speak with your doctor and a fitness expert. They will be able to tell you which exercises are safe throughout the entire pregnancy. We might even go so far as to recommend that you hire a fitness advisor/trainer if you have the financial means to do so. They could help you develop your best possible pregnancy workout program and monitor your progress.
Under the guise of staying safe during your pregnancy, please stay mindful of any health conditions you might have that would restrict your ability to exercise. If you have to deal with such issues when not pregnant, it’s very likely prenatal workouts might not be in the cards for you.
What are the best cardio exercises for pregnant women?
As you develop your pregnancy workout plan, it’s probably best to not focus too much on strength building. That’s better done when your body is able to operate with maximum efficiency. While pregnant, you should develop your pregnancy workout program to focus on your heart health and pregnancy fitness levels. How do you do that?
Well, fitness experts will tell you that cardio exercises are best if the focus of your pregnancy workout plan is fitness. That’s actually good news because there are plenty of good cardio exercises that are suitable for women during pregnancy. We are not referring to strenuous exercises that push your muscles to the max and cause you to sweat profusely. We are referring to common cardio exercises that will help you keep your body in motion, your heart beating, your muscles toned, and help you burn off calories from your cravings.
Before discussing the best cardio exercises for pregnant women, we would be remiss to not address weight gain. One of the reasons fit pregnant women stay fit is because they don’t go overboard with their diets. They pay attention to what their doctor says in terms of weight gain during pregnancy and don’t let “cravings” get the best of them. If you can follow that guideline and then implement good pregnancy exercises, your will be more likely to stay completely healthy until the birthing process is completed.
As for the best cardio exercises, we first recommend that you speak with your OB-GYN. They will have a good idea of what your body can withstand. Assuming they don’t offer many restrictions, here are some cardio exercises and activities worthy of your consideration.
Walking is the easiest exercise for which you can find the time. Makes sense given the fact you are walking all day long to get from one place to another. If you want to increase the cardio effect of your walking, just pick up the speed a little.
Brisk walking is low impact, which keeps stress off many parts of your body. At the same time, it will help increase your heart rate. That’s exactly what you want from cardio prenatal workouts when you have limited time and some health restrictions.
If your want to take brisk walking to the next level, you might try some jogging or running. As a rule of thumb, pregnant women should make sure they are running on flat terrain. The reason this matter is that the joints and ligaments will loosen up a bit as the pregnancy progresses. That could result in high-impact running up and down hills putting extra stress on the knees and back.
Also, running gives you a little less control over your body. With that in mind, a pregnancy workout plan that includes running should stay focused on moderation. Short runs on flat terrain would be a wise choice.
Whether someone is pregnant or not, swimming is a much underrated cardio exercise. The primary reason it doesn’t get more consideration is that not everyone has easy access to a swimming pool. In fact, finding a swimming pool in the wintertime in some parts of the U.S. is near impossible without a health club membership. Just the same, swimming is a great pregnancy exercise.
What is so great about swimming is it puts little to no stress on most parts of the body. Not only is it a low-impact cardio exercise, but it feels like a no-impact cardio exercise in the water. It’s the perfect option for getting the heart beating and keeping the muscles toned. Also, swimming and floating in water have a soothing effect on the unborn child.
Of course, any exercise during pregnancy demands caution. If you are moving around a swimming pool, you need to watch for slippery spots and take great caution around the steps. As the tummy grows, it will be more difficult to see where you are walking, so please be careful.Of course, any exercise during pregnancy demands caution. If you are moving around a swimming pool, you need to watch for slippery spots and take great caution around the steps. As the tummy grows, it will be more difficult to see where you are walking, so please be careful.
Exercise Equipment: Ellipticals and stair climbers
If you were or are fit heading into pregnancy, you can probably consider more strenuous exercises as long as you pay attention to what your body is saying. If you have access to exercise equipment, you might consider using Ellipticals and stair climbers.If you were or are fit heading into pregnancy, you can probably consider more strenuous exercises as long as you pay attention to what your body is saying. If you have access to exercise equipment, you might consider using Ellipticals and stair climbers.
The reason why these pieces of exercise equipment are suitable for a pregnant woman is that they are adjustable. Each pregnant woman can search for the resistance levels at which they feel the most comfortable. These types of exercise machines are good for the heart, endurance, and also help with muscle toning.
As the pregnancy progresses, greater care will need to be taken to prevent undue stress on the body and unborn child. This is particularly true in the third trimester. Also, great care and caution are warranted when getting on and off these machines to prevent falling.
Dance and Exercise Classes
If by chance you are already involved in exercise or Zumba classes, there is no reason you need to stop. Such classes work very well for pregnant women. They work well because each woman has the ability to adjust their effort levels to what feels comfortable to them. Of course, organized exercise classes are all about getting that heart rate up and keeping the body toned as much as possible.
If you wanted to add a little spice to your prenatal workouts, you might want to consider getting involved in dance classes. Anything along these lines will work as long as the activity is low impact and without dangerous movements.
For what it’s worth, there are plenty of dance and exercise classes specifically designed for pregnant women. If you were to choose one of these options, you would get the benefit of a specific pregnancy workout program that was developed by an expert. It’s a good bet that all of the exercises would be in line with what is best for you and your baby. For what it’s worth, there are plenty of dance and exercise classes specifically designed for pregnant women. If you were to choose one of these options, you would get the benefit of a specific pregnancy workout program that was developed by an expert. It’s a good bet that all of the exercises would be in line with what is best for you and your baby.
Outdoor Cycling and Indoor Cycling Classes
Bike riding for cardio exercise has been a favorite activity among Americans for as long as bikes have been around. A good outdoor bike ride at a pace that is comfortable for you is a great way to get some cardio activity and enjoy the great outdoors at the same time. The only issue you will likely encounter is bike riding can get uncomfortable during the third trimester. So, you might have to forgo your bike rides after six or seven months of pregnancy.
If you are into exciting indoor cycling classes, that’s a good exercise option as well. However, you would need to be careful about following the group during the more stressful endurance exercises. Moderation would be the key to you staying safe. To avoid scrutiny from the instructor, you might want to let them know you are with child. Chances are they could offer you less stressful exercise alternatives. Again, you might have to stop indoor riding classes towards the end of the third trimester.
Kickboxing and High-intensity interval training workouts (HIIT)
If you are starting from a place of having been very active and physically fit, there is a good chance your body can endure more than the average woman’s body. If that’s the case, activities like kickboxing and high-intensity interval training workouts might be acceptable. It’s something you would definitely want to discuss with your doctor before proceeding.
If you get the green light, the kickboxing would definitely need to be of the no-contact variety. As far as the high-intensity workouts, moderation would be the right call. As a physically fit woman, you should know your limitations. As a pregnant woman, you would need to accept that you can’t go full throttle as you likely have in the past.
Other Outdoor Activities
Fresh air is good for a woman during pregnancy. With that in mind, there are other outdoor activities you might enjoy that will provide you with some level of cardio exercise. Options like hiking, surfing, skiing, ice skating, and horseback riding are all acceptable forms of pregnancy exercises with a doctor’s green light. Since these options might create a little extra danger, you would need to commit yourself to be cautious and not push the envelope for any reason.
What are the best strength and flexibility prenatal workouts during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, cardio exercises will help keep you healthy and as fit as possible while your body goes through changes. That’s not to say you should avoid strength and flexibility exercises altogether. Here is some suggestion about strength and flexibility exercises that are suitable for pregnant women.
As you know, muscle building and muscle toning involve two different approaches to weightlifting. If you want to build muscle mass, you would choose to lift heavier weights and ingest a lot of calories and carbohydrates. That’s not gonna work out well for a pregnant woman.
What will work for a pregnant woman is focusing on muscle tining. That would require you to exercise with lighter weights, doing more repetitions per set. You would still get a little strengthening from the process, but the lighter weights will keep the stress off your abdomen, back, and joints.
Stretching exercises are great for pregnant women, These kinds of exercises help tone muscles and maintain flexibility. Since they are low to no-impact exercises, they are very safe throughout the entire pregnancy as long as you would feel comfortable making the necessary movements. Again, this is one of those exercise options where moderation and control are highly recommended.
If by chance you would be interested in ancient Chinese exercise rituals, Tai Chi is a great form of exercise. It involves slow and controlled body movements integrated with concentration and proper breathing. Of all the exercises we could recommend for a pregnant woman, this option might well be the best option. As long as you control your movements and focus on your balance. you would get the benefits of this exercise without hardly any risk of injury or body stress.
A prescribed prenatal workouts plan
Before you go off on your own to develop prenatal workouts, we would like to offer you a little advice. You are pregnant and nothing matters more than your health and safety as well as the health and safety of your unborn baby. This might be the right time to let the experts create your prenatal workouts.
If you can afford to hire a personal trainer with experience in training pregnant women, that would be a great option. If you don’t have the financial means to hire a trainer, the next best alternative would be consultations with your doctor and a fitness expert. Your doctor can advise you on what they think your body can endure. Based on their recommendation, a fitness expert could then create prenatal workouts that follow your doctor’s guidelines.
Whatever the experts create for you in terms of prenatal workouts, it’s you that has to follow their advice. While you are pregnant would not be the right time to start pushing your limits. At all times, you would want to stay in tune with your body and listen to what it is telling you. Even the slightest bit of discomfort should serve as a warning for you to back off of whatever it is that you are doing.
By the way, you might be one of those souls who don’t do much exercising. That’s fine, but you might want to do more exercise than normal while you are pregnant. It will definitely help with your heart health. It will also help you keep off some of those extra pounds when those crazy cravings come calling
Exercise needs by trimester
As you progress through your pregnancy, your body will go through its normal changes. As your body changes, you will find there is a need to shift your exercise regimen in order to accommodate your body’s capabilities.
As a word of caution, you might not know for the first 4 to 6 weeks of your pregnancy that you are pregnant. If you actively workout on a regular basis, running out of breath sooner during your exercise regimen could serve as the first sign you are indeed pregnant.
From the moment you know you are pregnant, you need to start shifting from your normal workouts to prenatal workouts. With safety as your primary objective, you will want to take the following precautions no matter what trimester you are in:
- No quick turns and twists of your torso
- No heavy lifting beyond the straining level
- Don’t allow your heart rate to get too elevated (below 140 BPM is recommended)
- Stop with any sign of discomfort
- Speak with your doctor about your exercise intentions
Keeping all of this information in mind, we would like to take you through some exercise programs suggestions by trimester.
Exercises for Trimester #1
During the first trimester, your hormones are changing but body changes would not yet be occurring. As long as morning sickness doesn’t throw you too far off balance, you will feel able to do most of the exercises you are used to doing.
While you are still feeling at full strength, you are most likely safe to continue with the workouts you have been doing most recently. Anything to do with cardio work will be good for your body. Where you might want to make adjustments would be with strenuous exercises that put stress on your abdomen/groin and back. Also, you will want to stay mindful that hormonal changes can throw off your equilibrium. That will create more risk with some exercises.
The best exercises for the first trimester would include running, biking, exercise/dance classes, and yoga/Tai Chi. Yoga and Tai Chi are always great options because they help you learn to control your breathing and muscles. That will come in handy during the birthing process.
Yes, high-intensity workouts and strength exercising should be fine during the first trimester. The key to staying healthy and safe is not trying to do too much while pregnant. If you are used to a full-throttle high-intensity workout, now would be a good time to dial it back by about 25% of what you typically do.
There are some very specific floor exercises that are well suited for the first trimester. The list would include squats, pelvic thrusts, kneeling pushups, pelvic curls and braces, and arm/leg strengthening exercises.
Exercises for Trimester #2
During the second trimester, your baby bump will start to appear. Your body will have gone through most of its hormonal changes, which will leave you with a good idea of where you balance and endurance sit.
While many of the first trimester exercises are okay in the second trimester, you should start dialing things back. Your body will react quicker to stress, and you will need to be able to react with caution. You might also experience more exhaustion and difficulty breathing if pushed too far. Exercises to avoid would be any exercises that would require you to lie on your back for long periods. Also, you would want to avoid exercises that put too much strain on the abdomen and lower back.
The best exercises during the second trimester include brisk walking, jogging, biking, and yoga/Tai Chi. Exercise and dance classes should be fine, but you would want to start taking more breaks and dialing back your extent of exercising. That means avoiding higher impact movements and activities. If you are weight training, now is the time to drop weights and focus more on repetitions with lighter weights.
As far as floor exercises, lighter pelvic exercises are still acceptable. Other good second-trimester floor exercises would include stretching exercises like the “mermaid stretch.” side-lying leg lifts, incline pushups, pullups, hip flexor, and quadriceps stretch, and anything for the glutes and thighs.
Exercises for Trimester #3
Entering the third trimester, your baby bump will start to become an obstacle to your range of motion. Your ability to move will slow down and exhaustion will come calling a lot sooner.
Since your center of gravity will be changing, you will want to slow down all of your movements. You should avoid exercises that put a premium on controlling your balance. This is the time to retreat from lifting exercises and anything that requires a significant impact on any part of your body.
In preparation for the birthing process, the third trimester is ideal for cardio exercises work with low impact. Walking and swimming would be highly preferred. Again, yoga and Tai Chi work very well in the late parts of the third trimester. The ability to control your body and breathing will come in handy when labor starts.
A healthy mother with a healthy body will usually result in a healthy baby. During pregnancy, you have a right and obligation to keep your body as healthy and fit as possible. That means you need to eat right and keep on exercising.
With safety as your primary concern, you need to maintain awareness about your body at all times while exercising. It will tell you when you are pushing the limits. No matter what else you do, you would be well advised to make sure you run any exercise you want to do during pregnancy by your doctor. They will have a full understanding of any potential limitations you might have.