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Workouts To Help You Stay Healthy While Pregnant

Posted by Brooke Grant
how to stay fit while pregnant

Maintaining your fitness routine during pregnancy is not only safe, but it actually has many health benefits for mother and child. In a healthy woman with a normal pregnancy, regular exercise has been shown to:

  • Improve your mood by releasing endorphins
  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Ease back and hip pain
  • Improve the quality of sleep and reduce fatigue
  • Reduce risk of complications during pregnancy and delivery
  • Speed post-delivery recovery

If you don't already have a fitness routine, it's safe and healthy to begin exercising during pregnancy, as long as you start slowly and listen to your body.

Here are some fantastic ways to maintain or boost your fitness while pregnant:

Swimming

Swimming is a near-perfect low-impact exercise during pregnancy. Swimming improves strength and cardiovascular fitness, while being gentle on joints, tendons, and ligaments. Because you weigh less in water, it eases tight muscles in the hips and lower back from carrying a baby, and makes fitness easier during pregnancy. A pregnant woman can swim all the way into her ninth month, and many find that it relieves nausea and swollen feet.

Avoid: diving or jumping with impact to the abdomen, or swimming strokes that involve excessive twisting of the torso. Avoid excessive heat from hot tubs, steam rooms, or saunas.

Walking, jogging, or running

Walking and jogging are easy to fit into nearly any busy schedule, and can be done at a normal pace for moderate intensity, or speed up for higher-intensity intervals and greater cardiovascular benefits. Provided you have a good pair of shoes, it's an excellent form of exercise throughout pregnancy, without hurting your knees or ankles.

Avoid: uneven terrain, slippery conditions, or high altitudes, because pregnancy increases the risk of losing your balance. And note that the feet may swell later in pregnancy, and it may be necessary to get shoes a half-size larger than normal.

Indoor cycling

If you are a regular cycler, pregnancy is a good time to take your workouts to the gym, since pregnancy can affect balance. It's a great cardiovascular workout that's easy on the body and can be modified to any pace or fitness level.

Avoid: if you take a spin class, make sure the instructor knows you are expecting, and avoid the most strenuous sprints if you feel tired or overheated.

Weight lifting

Yes, pregnant women can lift! And it's a great way to prepare your body for all the lifting and carrying you'll be doing as a parent to a small child, let alone improving muscular health and bone density. Opt for more reps at lower weights, and strength train a couple days a week.

Avoid: lifting exercises where you lie flat on your back or put pressure on your abdomen. Don't strain to the point where you are tempted to hold your breath, because irregular breathing may cause lightheadedness, and because you are sharing oxygen with the baby.

Prenatal classes

Many gyms and fitness facilities offer specialized prenatal yoga or water aerobics classes, or you can work with the instructor to slightly modify pilates, zumba, or aerobics classes to accommodate your pregnancy. These classes are great for getting exercise, learning new things, meeting people, and adding variety to your workout routine.

Avoid: any exercise to the point of exhaustion, activities that require a lot of balance (like some yoga poses), lying flat on your back after the first trimester, and any class where the instructor won't accommodate your needs.

The greatest benefits from exercise during pregnancy are the same as they are the rest of the time, ideally averaging about 150 minutes a week. But remember that any exercise is better than none, and even the occasional walk around the block has benefits for your heart and muscles. If you have any concerns about beginning a new fitness routine, or how best to maintain your current regimen, talk about it with your doctor. Regular, moderate exercise is beneficial for you and the baby, so don't let pregnancy keep you out of the gym altogether.

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