Before I begin talking about how to stay active during pregnancy, I encourage and recommend that you please talk to your doctor and healthcare provider first prior to starting. I’m not a medical health professional and I’m sharing based on my personal experience.
If you’ve been following me on my Instagram Stories, then you know I always share my daily workouts. The moment I found out I was pregnant, I asked my OB about exercising during pregnancy. She told me that it is important that a pregnant woman continues to stay active throughout her pregnancy. Everyone’s fitness level is different so you should only do what you have been doing prior to being pregnant. Pregnancy is not the time to try something new.
There are many health benefits for both the mother and the baby. Hence, why my OB highly encouraged it. As long as there is no medical reason to avoid any physical activity, you can do moderate-intensity physical activity. As you move further along your pregnancy, you should modify some of the exercises.
How To Stay Active During Pregnancy
Some of the benefits of exercising during pregnancy is it helps reduce the risk of pregnancy complications, helps with discomfort, helps maintain a healthy weight gain, and improves recovery. For the babies, exercising helps boost brain health, reduce risk of diabetes, and fitter heart. The negative effects of not staying active during pregnancy are excessive weight gain, increased risk of gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia. I was one of the unfortunate ones that was at risk of preeclampsia due to my hypertension history during chemo. So for me, even if I was so fatigued, that was also my motivation to stay active.
In addition to the physical health benefits, continuing to work out throughout my pregnancy has helped my mental health too. It has helped boost my inner confidence and I’ve learned to appreciate the changes my body has gone through and recognize how strong my body truly is.
Now, I’m not saying it is easy to continue exercising during pregnancy.
Trust me it is not, but for me I saw the benefits outweigh the negative consequences. What also motivated me was that if I was able to exercise during chemo then I can definitely do it during my pregnancy. In my opinion, my chemo side effects were so bad but I was able to push through. So I always have the mindset that I can pretty much do anything.
But of course there are still challenges of pregnancy, like fatigue and morning sickness, that can hinder a pregnant women from staying active and exercising. I’ve noticed that after my workouts, my fatigue and morning sickness does get better. So for me, I just had to start. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy. So here are my tips on staying active during pregnancy.
If you are unsure how long you should work out, I recommend doing 15 minutes of non-stop activity three times a week. Then gradually increase to 3o minutes of workout five times a week.
Also, one of my go-to resources is the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. I found the FAQs about exercising very helpful.
If possible, substitute driving etc. with walking. You don’t need to be a super athlete or need to be physically fit to get your body moving. The easiest exercise is walking. You only need to walk for 30 minutes. Even taking your dog out for a brisk walk counts! When the weather is nice, I definitely try to go out for walks.
Climbing The Stairs
Similar to walking, try to substitute your activity with using the stairs. Instead of using the elevator, use the stairs. Not only is it a great cardio workout but it also tones. Just use your judgment. Obviously if you’re going somewhere that’s on the 18th floor, maybe just use the stairs for a few flights.
My parents are not into working out. But their form of exercising is gardening. And studies have shown it is a great way to get your mind and body moving. But if you are in your third trimester, being on your knees and bending will be difficult.
Continue Your Workouts
My OB mentioned that whatever I was doing before I was pregnant, I should continue to do. Pregnancy is a marathon and your body has to prep for it too. So she told me that if my body was used to me exercising, then don’t stop exercising during pregnancy.
Therefore, whatever your fitness and activity level was prior to getting pregnant, that is where you continue in your pregnancy. This is not the time to try something new.
Safe Exercises During Pregnancy
What To Avoid
The biggest modification when it comes to pregnancy is avoiding any contact sports or exercises that may increase risk of falling. Therefore, it is recommended to avoid activities such as horseback riding, downhill skiing, scuba diving, etc. I used to do boxing, but as soon as it was confirmed I was pregnant, I stopped. I don’t want my stomach to get accidentally punched or twist my torso.
Modification does not mean less effect. It just means you are being safe. Again, depending on your fitness level, you may want to substitute exercises that require jumping (i.e. jump squats, tuck jumps, etc). For instance, when I had to do jump squats, I substitute it with going on my toes instead of jumping. You still work the same muscles. I started modifying in the third trimester.
Low-Impact Aerobics Classes / Workout
These are workouts that will get your heart rate going. If it’s hard to motivate yourself, try a class! Low-impact workouts are the best. They’re effective and safe for you and your baby. If you google low impact workouts, a lot will pop up. Some you may already be doing such as walking, swimming, spin class / cycling, etc.
Pregnant or not, swimming is one of the best exercises. It’s easy on the joints, a great cardio workout, tones your muscles, and is low impact. If a pool was available to me, I would have done swimming.
Yoga is great because it can help relieve stress, aches, and pains associated with pregnancy. Just make sure you listen to your body. Keep in mind that as the baby grows, your center of gravity changes. So feel free to lean against the wall for more stability and/or modify.
Pilates is another great low impact workout that really works the muscles. There are some pilates workouts that twist the torso, so I recommend avoiding those or modify.
Engage Your Core “Hugging Your Baby”
While you should not be doing crunches, you should still work your core. A strong core alleviates pressure on your back by providing support and relieving the pressure from your lower back. It can help increase your sense of control during labor and help with a speedy core recovery after birth. In every workout you do, you should be engaging your core.
The easiest and most effective core workout is something called “hugging your baby”.
- Draw in your abs as if you are hugging your baby
- Hold for 3 to 5 seconds while you inhale and exhale
- Don’t hold your breath!
- Repeat several times
- Here’s a video of how this looks. I shared it on Instagram awhile back.
I hope this helps. Remember, everyone is at a different place in terms of fitness level and life. Do not compare yourself to other pregnant women. I have put blinders on when it comes to other pregnant women and only focus on me and the baby and making sure we are both healthy.
As I mentioned earlier, I highly encourage you all to please talk to your doctor first before doing any of the tips I mentioned above.
If you are pregnant / a mom, what were your favorite workouts?