Be Active Your Way – Pregnancy Workout Routine

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Congratulations on your pregnancy! What an exciting time. I know you are probably reading all. the. things. about being pregnant. So you’ve probably figured out how important it is to take good care of yourself and baby. Eating well, managing your stress, staying hydrated, and getting enough sleep (well, trying to anyway) are just a few. But moving your body everyday is also super important. Read on to see my tips for getting into a pregnancy workout routine.

Benefits of a Pregnancy Workout Routine

Why should a pregnant woman exercise during pregnancy? Well, any type of physical activity can be beneficial for both mom and baby. Physical health benefits include helping to manage pregnancy weight gain, maintain muscle strength, and prepare your body for labor. 

But, perhaps more importantly, there are mental health benefits as well. Exercise helps reduce stress and anxiety which is so, so helpful for those of us managing a pregnancy after a loss. Plus it can be a great way to connect with your baby, especially during prenatal yoga. 

The American Pregnancy Association and other leading health organizations all recommend that women exercise during pregnancy. Try to alternate between movement, strength, and stretching activities. Not sure what to do? Keep reading!

How to Get Started Safely

Now I know that you may have heard some myths flying around about risks of exercising during pregnancy. I’m here to tell you that it can be COMPLETELY safe. Research overwhelmingly shows that it is safe and good for you to exercise while you are pregnant. If you are still nervous, talk it through with your OB. You can even work with a personal trainer to develop a pregnancy-friendly plan. To get started safely, here are my top 3 pointers:

  1. Start with something familiar. Now is NOT the time to take up surfing if you’ve never done it before. Walking is a perfect activity if you haven’t been doing much exercise. But if you are a regular weight lifter, you can continue doing this during your pregnancy (with modifications as you need them).
  2. Stay cool and hydrated. Time to upgrade your workout wardrobe! Stock up on light colored and moisture wicking clothes. Compression stockings and maternity shorts can come in handy too. Always have a drink handy, and remember to take sips frequently! The sports dietitian in me wants to remind you that if it’s super humid out, or if you plan to exercise for longer than 45 minutes, go for a sports drink over water. 
  3. Listen to your body. Now more than ever, pay attention to the little signs that your body gives off when you exercise. Your center of gravity is shifting forward as your baby grows, so things that used to be easy peasy can become more challenging.  If you are feeling any discomfort while exercising, stop what you are doing or make adjustments. This is where a personal trainer who has experience working with pregnant clients can be helpful.

Feeling ready to go? Awesome-sauce! Read on to see my tips for each trimester of pregnancy.

Tips for Exercise in First Trimester

The first trimester of pregnancy is a time of transition. Some women feel great and can keep up their usual routine, while others feel fatigue or nausea kick in right away. When it comes to continuing your exercise routine, or starting from scratch, the key is to listen to your body. Things may change from day to day! When you feel up to it, going for a walk is a great way to exercise in the first trimester. If you know there is a specific time of the day when you usually feel pretty good, try to schedule your walk for that time. If you’ve been consistently working out before you got pregnant, you should be able to keep doing those same activities in the first trimester. The only exception would be to avoid contact sports or sports with a risk of falling. Now is a good time to swap your road bike for a stationary bike!

Tips for Exercise in Second Trimester

As you enter the second trimester of your pregnancy, you’ll likely start to notice some physical changes as your baby continues to grow. It’s during this time that you may need to pay more attention to how you are feeling during exercise. Always keep a drink with you, and avoid exercising for too long in hot and humid weather. Wear light clothing and take breaks when you need to. Now is a good time to start (or continue) doing pelvic floor exercises, such as Kegels. Trying out a prenatal yoga class is also highly recommended. Here is a great YouTube class to get you started! Weight training can be done throughout pregnancy, taking care to select a weight that you can safely move. Be careful performing single-leg lunges since your center of gravity is now shifted and your ligaments in the pelvis are more flexible now. 

Tips for Exercise in Third Trimester

The third trimester of pregnancy is when your baby is growing by leaps and bounds! Which means that your body is starting to feel the effects of hosting another tiny human! You may get out of breath more often now, even if you are not exercising. Some women also experience round ligament pain in their pelvis as their body prepares for labor and delivery. Continue to listen to your body when it comes to exercising during this last trimester. If you would like to engage your core muscles, do so in a standing position. Avoid lying down on your back for extended periods of time, as it can compress blood flow to major arteries. If you are continuing to do exercise that you enjoyed pre-pregnancy, you may need to decrease the intensity of what you are doing, either by going slower or using lighter weights. At this point, your own bodyweight can be effective resistance!

At Home Pregnancy Exercises

It’s easy to incorporate exercise into your daily routine when you are pregnant. Start at home! When you wake up in the morning, take 5 minutes to do some gentle stretching. Throughout the day, you can walk up and down the stairs (at home or at work) for a quick energy boost. Take your time, but challenge yourself. Another great 5 minute activity is to do a series of body-weight exercises. Here is my pick – rotate through 10-20 reps of each movement: wide-leg squats, arm circles, standing side crunch, and push-ups (on your knees or hands against the wall). You can take a quick rest after 1 set, then repeat the circuit as many times as you can in 5 minutes. 

Suggested Exercises During Pregnancy

I’ve mentioned a few exercises throughout, but here is a great list of activities that are safe to perform during pregnancy. This is not meant to be a full list of options, but enough to help you build a fun and effective pregnancy workout routine!

Movement exercises

  • Walking
  • Running (a support belt is highly recommended)
  • Marching in place
  • Stepping up and down an exercise bench or stairs
  • Dancing!
  • Stationary bike

Strength exercises (using weights or bodyweight)

  • Overhead shoulder press 
  • Tricep dips (leaning back on a bench)
  • Overhead triceps extension
  • Lunges
  • Deadlift
  • Wide upright row

Stretching exercises

  • Cat/Cow stretch on hands and knees
    • From this position, you can also add an alternate arm and leg lift 
  • Side stretch
    • Try getting into Mermaid pose with both legs on one side, then reach one arm away from the legs
  • Seated hip stretch
    • Pigeon pose is usually done lying on the floor. If you have a towel or bolster, you can support your bottom and head when you lean forward.
    • This stretch can also be done while sitting on the floor or a chair or on the floor. 
  • Slow head circles

If you’d like help getting started, sign up to work with me! I can develop a customized pregnancy workout routine along with a nutrition plan!

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