Exercise during pregnancy isn't about losing weight or prepping for pool season -- exercising while you're pregnant can improve your overall state of well being, help relieve common pregnancy discomforts, physically prepare your body for the hard work of labor and birth, help your body recover faster after pregnancy and birth, and help you maintain healthy weight during your pregnancy. And guess what? You don't have to exercise for hours at a time to receive these benefits! Just 30 minutes of exercise on most or all days (as per recommendatons by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) of the week can make a difference. Below are some of our favorite suggestions for exercise during pregnancy. Please check first with your care provider before beginning any new or continuing an existing exercise program. In most cases, exercise during pregnancy is strongly encouraged!
Walking. As simple as it sounds, walking is one of the best, low-impact workouts you can do. Plus it's almost always accessible, requires no special equipment, and the learning curve is very low! Plan for a 30 minute walk early in the morning, during your lunch hour, or in the early evening. If the weather is bad, hit up your local shopping mall and walk the floors!
Yoga: A good prenatal yoga routine can do wonders for both your body and mind when it comes to labor, birth, and general day-to-day well being. Find a local prenatal yoga class (it's important that your instructor either teaches prenatal yoga or is aware of your pregnancy so as to suggest modifications for certain poses), find prenatal yoga videos online, or purchase a prenatal yoga DVD to use at home.
Pilates: Similar to yoga, but with key differences, pilates also offers excellent benefits for pregnancy. Pilates focuses on strength, muscle toning, body control, and flexibility, but does not offer the spiritual practice and complex poses that you find in a yoga class.
Swimming & water aerobics: There aren't enough good things to say about being immersed in water during pregnancy. Imagine all of the weight, tension, and tightness suddenly being lifted as if by magic. The weightlessness that water provides works wonders for pregnancy and provides a perfect environment for exercise. Swimming and water aerobics provide all of the same benefits as other exercise programs all while reducing the impact to your body.
Dance/Zumba/Aerobics: A traditional cardio class is another excellent way to stay fit during pregnancy -- and fun to boot! Some moves may need to be modified for pregnancy, like jumping or twisting. If attending a class at the gym isn't possible, pump up the music at home and dance intentionally for 30 minutes. This is great to do if you have other young children at home -- most kids can't resist a dance party!
At-home prenatal fitness routines: Spend a few minutes searching "pregnancy workout routines" on Pinterest and you'll dig up hundreds of ideas for simple and effective exercise ideas that cost you nothing but the time invested!
Running and weight lifting exercises are not on my list, but may be perfectly safe for you in pregnancy, with modifications, under a care provider's approval, and with attention to your body's cues. It's important to monitor how you feel during a workout, no matter what the exercise, and stop and/or call your doctor or midwife if you experience any unusual symptoms.
What did you do during your pregnancy for exercise? What might you do differently next time?