Pregnancy is not the time to turn into a soda-sipping, chip ‘n dipping couch potato. These days, we know that working out during those nine months can be very beneficial in helping moms sleep better and maintain a healthy weight gain. Exercise also boosts the mother’s mood, helps with discomforts (e.g., back pain, fatigue, and constipation), and may even help make labor a little easier by improving endurance. Moreover, keeping active now means it might be easier for you to lose the pregnancy weight later after baby is born.
But there is a limit to what you can do when you are pregnant when it comes to working out. Going for a run when you barely exercised before you were pregnant will be hard on your body—and some ab exercises, such as full sit-ups or double leg lifts, are some of the workouts that should be avoided. Still, there are plenty of workouts that can be done during those months…after first consulting your doctor, of course. Here are three of the best workouts you can do during your pregnancy.
Healthcare providers and fitness experts alike hail swimming as the best and safest exercise for pregnant women. Swimming makes you feel lighter and more limber. It lets you work your large muscle groups and is good for your cardiovascular system. Swimming regularly may also relieve nausea, sciatic pain, and puffy ankles. And because the baby is floating along with you, it’s gentle on your loosening joints and ligaments.
If you have access to a pool, swim laps to keep in shape—a side benefit is a meditative state that comes when you free your mind of intrusive thoughts and just concentrate on the rhythm of the arm strokes. If you like something more social, find a water aerobics class with a low-intensity routine so you can laugh with friends (also good for your health) while you move your body.
Pilates classes that are appropriate for pregnancy are perfect to help you on strengthening your core and lengthening your muscles. This can help ease backaches and improve your posture as well as your flexibility; the latter will be very useful when you are in labor.
Another bonus of doing Pilates is that since this exercise engages your deepest core muscles, pelvic floor, hips, and spine, you’ll develop muscle memory and strength that can help your body recover faster post-pregnancy. Experts recommend that you always start the workout with 1) a 5-10 minute warm up involving shoulder rolls, knee lifts, and lower back stretches and 2) rest in between each set if needed.
Pilates has become very popular over the last few years so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a class to attend. You can ask your hospital if they know of any Pilates instructors who specialize in pregnancy appropriate classes. You can also do a search online to find videos by expert fitness trainers who will guide you through the appropriate moves depending on the trimester you are in.
Yoga brings with it a whole slew of benefits. More than just a regular exercise, yoga helps us to find balance by connecting the mind to the body. It leads to more awareness and gratefulness; it reduces anxiety and depression; and, it helps us endure pain and accept what we cannot change.
With this said, prenatal yoga is another great workout to perform during your pregnancy. As anxiety levels run high and as overwhelming thoughts can get the best of you, yoga will help you to center yourself and become calmer, so that you can be as serene as possible for your baby.
Not only does it help your state of mind but yoga also maintains muscle tone and keeps you flexible with little or no impact on your joints. It is the perfect exercise to combine with your cardio workout. Not to mention the fact that it will train you in the art of breathing, so you can master your breaths when you are in labor.
Whatever you decide to go for, make sure you wear comfortable clothes to help you move easily through your workout. Also, remember that although it is important to move when you are pregnant. This is not the time to push through the pain. If you have discomfort during your workout, stop and ask your instructor to help you modify your regimen to something more appropriate for your stage of pregnancy. Remember, you have your whole life to prove you can push yourself to the limit. But during this time, take a step back, take a deep breath, and focus on having a healthy pregnancy. Namaste.