Women often worry about safe exercise during pregnancy. But with these five simple and easy to remember rules regarding exercise during pregnancy you can rest easy (or should I say work a bit harder!). Simplicity=Success, right?!
1.Do what you’ve been doing, or start slow- A common question is if you could even work out while you’re pregnant. As long as you don’t have any medical reasons given by your doctor then the answer is yes! General rule is you can continue to do any activity you have already been doing prior to getting pregnant. Also, do what you feel comfortable with.
People worry too much when they hear other gym-goers comment “Should you really be working out? Is it even safe?” These people are not the experts, and though they most likely have good intentions they aren’t mentioning the truth: the real hazard is inactivity during your pregnancy! This contributes to excessive weight gain, high blood pressure, higher risk for C-Section, higher risk of gestational diabetes, increased constipation, and more aches and pains!
If you weren’t exercising before, now is a great time to start. Start with low to moderate exercise for just 10 minutes, 5 days a week and then build up by adding 5-10 minutes more each week from there until you reach 30 minutes a day, 7 days a week. Make sure you do a gradual warm-up before exercise and a cool down afterward.
2. Monitor your intensity- Most people’s major concern about working out while they are pregnant is if they are exercising at too high of an intensity. When you become pregnant your resting heart rate increases, so you need to make sure your heart rate isn’t too elevated during exercise. So how can you be sure? The general rule of thumb is you should be able to talk while exercising. If you’re too out of breath to carry on a brief conversation then slow it down. Also, avoid high impact exercise moves (like plyometric exercises: jumping squats, jumping lunges, skiers, etc.).
When you are pregnant you release a hormones called relaxin that helps your whole body physically become a bit looser. So with too much stretching or intense plyometric moves you are more at risk for joint injury. So just keep in mind during pregnancy this is not a time to set new personal records. You can beat that personal 5K time post baby. 😉 For now, focus on low to moderate intensity exercises.
3. Integrate balance training and core exercises– As your baby grows you may notice that you’re a bit clumsier, right? This is because your center of gravity shifts which makes you a bit more likely to fall. If you integrate balance and core training you’ll help with this, along with prevent back pain- a very common complaint for pregnant women. There are several safe core exercises for you to do throughout your entire pregnancy just remember that you can’t exercise on your back after the first trimester. Many women report that doing core exercises throughout their pregnancy helped with their delivery. You’ll see some options/examples of core exercises you can do throughout your pregnancy in tomorrow’s blog post.
4. Work out every day for 30 minutes- Whether you enjoy walking, swimming, yoga, Pilates, or strength training it doesn’t matter. Just commit to 30 minutes of exercise. Experts recommend that expectant moms get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most, if not all days (and yes, cleaning the house or taking a brisk walk counts — and no, you don’t have to do all 30 minutes in one shot).
5. Do what you LOVE– Well….let me rephrase that. If you love lying on the couch eating Bon Bon’s that’s not what I mean (I know.. I LOVE that too). Pick an exercise routine that you love and integrate that into your week. The fact is that unless you do something you love it’ll be hard to be consistent and integrate exercise into your lifestyle. Some people love biking while others love to run/jog. Some women swear by yoga, while others wouldn’t be caught dead doing a “downward dog”. I’ll be honest- I don’t always love to exercise. There are some exercises I enjoy (and even that depends on the day-ha!), but often I exercise because I like how I feel afterward and like the end result of being healthy and fit. For me, exercise can be a means to an end (result), but by integrating types of exercise I do love it keeps me from giving up.
So while keeping these rules in mind, one of the areas of exercise I hope women integrate into their program while pregnant is strength training. Though most people are up to date on how beneficial it is for pregnant women to exercise there seems to be limited focus on strength training while pregnant. And while some people may still be under the belief that you can’t lift weights while pregnant a 2011 University of Georgia study found that a low-to-moderate-intensity strength program is safe, even for novices. I personally recommend very light weight (about 5 lbs.) or using resistance bands to ensure you don’t over do it.
I hope these five tips help give you an idea on how to integrate exercise into your pregnancy. Aside from the health benefits of exercise, I see this as an opportunity during your pregnancy to fit in a little “me” time to help you stay sane! So as Nike would say: Just Do It!
Note: Before you begin an exercise program, make sure you have your health care provider’s OK. Although exercise during pregnancy is generally good for both mother and baby, you’ll need to proceed with caution if you have a history of preterm labor or certain medical conditions.
Author’s Bio: Lynn Manning is wife of celebrity trainer Drew Manning (fit2fat2fit). She is a certified Women’s Fitness Specialist and mother of two girls. She shares healthy recipes, at home workouts and other fitness guidance through her social media and website. Website ~ Facebook ~ Instagram