Along with any pregnancy comes a whirlwind of emotions; excitement, nervousness and probably nausea, just to name a few. There’s a lot to be excited for with any pregnancy of course, and there is also a lot to be anxious about. Pregnancy anxiety comes with feeling anxious about things like how the pregnancy will go, the risk of it ending, the actual birth and delivery and just growing another human being in general. As if all that is not enough, most expectant mothers also worry about the changes in her appearance and the inevitable gains. Luckily, there are actually workouts that are safe for pregnant women to do.
"'Exercise is not a process that needs be eschewed or prevented during pregnancy,' says Dr. John Botti, director of maternal-fetal medicine at Penn State Geisinger Health System, who studied the effects of exercise on moderately conditioned pregnant women. 'Reasonably performed exercise doesn't appear to cause harm, and may, in fact, have benefits.'" writes WebMd.
Below is a list of 20 workouts that Mom can actually do while pregnant. Some are workouts that any mom can do from the comfort of her own home, but some require signing up for a class or getting a little adventurous outdoors. There is some type of exercise for anyone, so keep reading for pregnancy workouts that are fun, and safe!
Prenatal yoga is so beneficial in many different ways. “Much like other types of childbirth-preparation classes, prenatal yoga is a multifaceted approach to exercise that encourages stretching, mental centering and focused breathing. Research suggests that prenatal yoga is safe and can have many benefits for pregnant women and their babies," writes MayoClinic.org.
The site continues, "Research suggests that prenatal yoga can: improve sleep, reduce stress and anxiety, increase the strength, flexibility and endurance of muscles needed for childbirth and decrease lower back pain, nausea, carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms, headaches and shortness of breath."
There are a lot of prenatal yoga videos available free of charge on YouTube so be sure to check that out. This is a great way to kick off your mornings!
Another great way to stay active while pregnant is by jogging. This is something you may only want to do if you were a jogger before you got pregnant.
“Exercise will get harder as you get further along, so you may want to gradually scale back on how often and how long you jog. Even expert runners cut back as pregnancy progresses. Be sure to stay hydrated and use the "talk test" to make sure you don't overexert yourself. You should be able to carry on a conversation while jogging,” shares BabyCenter.com.
Always err on the side of caution and listen to your body while doing any kind of exercise.
Walking is another great option, especially if you are not totally comfortable jogging. Here’s a good guide to get you started on how frequently you should be walking if that’s your exercise of choice.
“If you are have the habit of walking regularly before conception, continue doing it. If you are new to walking, start with 15 to 30 minutes of walk, three days in a week and then extend it up to 60 minutes for most days of the week. According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans and NHS, it is recommended to walk for 150 minutes (two hours and 30 minutes) in a week. You can continue to walk until your third trimester and even after birth as long as you feel comfortable,” states MomJunction.com.
“Because it focuses on your core, practicing Pilates on a regular basis can improve posture, alleviate backaches, and ultimately help with labor and delivery. Plus, it will boost your mood and energy levels. Choose a prenatal class if you can. Otherwise, let the instructor know you're pregnant so she can help you modify or skip any risky moves,” suggests TheBump.com.
Pilates is another great way to stay fit and active while you’re pregnant, and doing so will ultimately help you feel better at the end of each day. Many women find that stay fit and active during pregnancy helps them bounce back after delivery as well.
Perhaps one of the most fun ways to stay active while pregnant is swimming. This is especially true towards the end of your pregnancy as floating in the water helps you feel much lighter than you actually are!
“When you’re carrying upwards of 20 extra pounds, the last thing you may be in the mood for is exercise. But in a pool (or any other body of water, for that matter) you weigh just a tenth of what you do on land. Which means bobbing weightlessly, feeling both lighter and more limber, can be a real treat. In fact swimming while pregnant just might be the perfect activity for expecting women, offering not only the benefits of exercise but also relief from a number of common pregnancy aches and pains,” states WhatToExpect.com.
15 Spin Class
Think pregnancy means you have to skip out on spin class? Think again! As with any type of pregnancy work-out, start slowly, especially if you were not in a regular exercise regimen before you conceived. And always consult your Doctor with any questions or concerns.
Spin class instructors can be intense, FitPregnancy.com recommends the following, “Especially if you're not showing yet, says Ziel. "It's easy to push yourself too hard when an instructor is yelling at you," she says. By letting him/her know you're pregnant ahead of time, you won't need to worry about being singled out if you need a break.”
14 Weight Lifting
“Strength training is safe and one of the best ways to minimize aches and pains. Weight machines are ideal, especially for gym newbies, because they control your range of motion. 'During pregnancy, your joints get looser, and it's easy to move outside of your normal range,' says Jeffreys. However, if you're accustomed to doing free-weight exercises, you can continue,” advises FitPregnancy.com.
There are a ton of resources on the internet, and even Pinterest, for at home weight training exercises you can do while pregnant. It’s a great way to to keep in shape and build some muscles up because before you know it you will be carting around a toddler!
There are many aerobic exercise classes available for pregnant mothers to take at many fitness centers, or even a lot of at-home options available online. As with any type of exercising while pregnant, there are different things to keep in mind for each trimester of pregnancy.
For your first and second trimesters, BabyCenter.Co.UK recommends the following, “Take care not to get too hot or tired during your workout. Wear thin layers of exercise clothes that let your skin breathe and that you can remove as you work harder, to avoid overheating. Take a big bottle of water with you and drink plenty before, during and after your class, so you don't get dehydrated.”
And for the third trimester, BabyCenter.Co.UK adds,”Your growing bump may begin to hamper some of your movements. If it feels too tricky or awkward to bend or reach, just march on the spot. It’ll keep your heart rate up as you take it easy.”
12 Barre Class
Don’t worry, you can still tag along with your besties to barre class if that’s your thing! Barre is totally bump friendly.
“It’s always a good idea to work out your entire body, but pregnancy puts more emphasis on certain muscle groups. Specifically, you want to target your glutes, inner thighs, hamstrings, abdominals, pelvic floor and upper and lower back. Why? Focusing on those areas helps you lengthen and strengthen the muscles that best help you accommodate your growing bump — you’re making room for your growing baby. It can also help you feel stronger in your ever-changing body,” writes Physique57.com on how to get the most out of your barre class during your pregnancy.
11 Dance Class
Why yes, you can dance your way through your pregnancy! Dancing is a great way to stay in shape while pregnant, not to mention how fun it is!
“Not only do you get to move your body to music you love, but it will keep you flexible while toning your muscles. You can get a cardiovascular workout from any fast-paced dance, or stretch and maintain muscle tone when you hold positions in ballet,” shares BabyCenter.com.
Look for a class targeted towards pregnant women, or be sure and inform your instructor that you are expecting if you opt for a regular class.
Want to get outdoors and enjoy the scenery while getting in a little workout? Hiking is a great way to get in some exercise and fresh air. You can even make a date day out of this activity. Or make it a weekly routine to go for a hike throughout your pregnancy!
“My advice for first-trimester hiking is much the same as for hiking while pregnant at any stage. The only difference is that your center of gravity might not be off by much. It’s likely you haven’t grown a lot. But all the other rules still apply. Always talk to your care provider first. It may get annoying to hear over and over again but ask about getting a physical before you go hiking to see that you and baby are in good shape. Just get an 'okay' from your doctor/midwife and you’re ready to go,” suggests BabyPrepping.com.
9 Circuit Workout
Pinterest is your best friend when it comes to finding a pregnancy friendly circuit workout. BodyBuilding.com suggests looking for a circuit workout that includes some squatting, because that just may come in handy.
“Squatting isn't just the best lift in weight training; it is also one of 12 natural positions for birth. I wasn't sure if I was going to give birth squatting, but I definitely kept doing squats throughout my pregnancy. This is one of my major messages to pregnant women: Just because you can't do what you used to doesn't mean you can't do anything! We can all benefit from using our muscles in some way,” states BodyBuilding.com.
Stretching is definitely a must before and after any workout, but even if you are not huge on the idea of working out while pregnant, simply squeezing in a stretch session every day could have many benefits for you.
“Stretching makes you more flexible, keeps your muscles loose, and eases pregnancy aches and pains. Stretching also enhances your body's range of motion, which can prepare you for the rigors of childbirth. And it's a healthy way to relax and release stress,” states BabyCenter.com.
Make it a habit to do a quick stretch before you get in bed each night.
7 Elliptical Workout
Sneaking in an elliptical workout is a quick, easy, fun and totally safe way to workout while pregnant.
“The elliptical trainer places little stress on your joints. However, the motion may feel uncomfortable if you're experiencing symphysis pubic dysfunction (SPD), a pain in the front of your crotch,” writes FitPregnancy.com.
FitPregnancy.com advises opting for a treadmill or stationary bike if the elliptical becomes too uncomfortable. It might be a little difficult to work up the motivation to get yourself to the gym throughout your pregnancy, but just think of how much better you will feel after you do it!
“If you've been actively involved in aerobic kickboxing, is it safe to continue? Yes, if your doctor gives you the OK. However, later during pregnancy, you'll need to lower your kicks and shorten your punches to protect your joints and your balance, which will be more precarious as your center of gravity changes. If you've never tried kickboxing, pregnancy may not be the ideal time to start since it can cause injury if not performed correctly,” writes BabyMed.com.
Keeping up your kickboxing routine while pregnant would make you one hardcore mama! Just be sure and always listen to your body, rest when you need to, and take it easy on yourself.
5 Tai Chi
“Many women search for a low-impact activity to help them stay active during pregnancy, and tai chi, a gentle martial art, is gaining popularity among Canadian moms-to-be. The ancient Chinese exercise is characterized by a series of graceful movements that flow together like a slow-motion dance, both relaxing and strengthening the body and mind,” shares TodaysParent.com.
Tai Chi is a wonderful way to stay active and in tune with your body throughout your pregnancy. Look for a class near you if there is one available, otherwise you can find a lot of videos on YouTube and you can practice from the comfort of your own home.
Prior to your pregnancy you may not have considered a rowing machine as your choice of exercise, but it’s definitely worth considering now that you are pregnant.
“A rowing machine can safely be used during pregnancy, especially if you're smart about your workout. Begin with a light five- to 10-minute warm-up to prepare your baby and your body for exercise. The website What to Expect recommends adjusting the rower's resistance to a level that's appropriate for you and taking it slow. Row at a comfortable pace for 20 to 30 minutes and end with a five-minute cool-down,” suggests LiveStrong.com.
TRX, or total resistance exercises, are a great option for any expectant mother.
“RX suspension training, which uses the TRX Suspension Trainer system to develop strength, balance, flexibility and core stability simultaneously, is one great option for the new mom or mom-to-be," shares WellRoundedNy.com.
"During pregnancy, it’s important to maintain and/or build strength to off set any muscle imbalances that are taking place with the shifting of weight. The TRX allows you to continue to build strength in a safe effective way," the site continues. "The TRX offers some support with the handles, and helps guide you through movements that might otherwise be challenging because of a growing belly, altered balance from hormones or changes in abdominal strength."
Just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you can’t still have a smoking hot body! Doing so might not be for everyone, but if you want to stay toned during your pregnancy, it’s totally manageable. You just have to put in the work and effort.
“Exercise can help you feel good about yourself and your body, too. 'By toning key body parts such as arms and legs, expectant moms can feel more comfortable wearing sexy new clothes that will boost self-esteem,' says Elizabeth Trindade, creator and owner of Strollercize, a pre- and postnatal workout program based in New York, and a mother of three,” shares FitPregnancy.com.
Again, you can turn towards a class at your local gym or look up some pregnancy friendly toning workouts on Pinterest. There’s no wrong way to get in a good workout!
1 Pushing Exercises
Don’t forget about those kegel exercises throughout your pregnancy. If there’s one workout you want to keep up with, it’s definitely this!
“Pregnant women who perform Kegel exercises often find they have an easier birth. Strengthening these muscles during pregnancy can help you develop the ability to control your muscles during labor and delivery. Toning these muscles will also minimize two common problems during pregnancy: decreased bladder control and hemorrhoids,” states AmericanPregnancy.org.
Talk to your doctor about the best way to go about these exercises, or again turn to good old Pinterest for some examples. You will find these exercises are totally easy, and you will be very thankful you did them.
References: WebMd, Mayo Clinic, YouTube, Baby Center, The Bump, What To Expect, Fit Pregnancy, Physique 57, Baby Prepping, Body Building.com, Baby Med, Live Strong, Today's Parent, Well Rounded NY, AmericanPregnancy.org