Pregnancy is a wonderful time for any woman. And most pregnant women realize that having a disciplined workout that is closely monitored by their gynaecologist is one of the best ways to stay fit and increase their stamina for the time they go in to labor. If you workout today, not only will you find it a lot easier to lose weight post pregnancy, but you will also be able to ‘push’ a lot harder and tire much lesser when in labor!
However, not all exercises are recommended for pregnant women. Since not all workouts are created equal, we have created a list of exercise you SHOULD try and also the exercises you SHOULDN’T try when pregnant. Remember, start slowly with any fitness routine and make sure your body doesn’t overheat while exercising. Before you start on a workout regimen, be sure to talk to your gynaecologist about whether the exercises you prefer are safe for the baby and you or not.
Exercises recommended for pregnant women:
While all exercises have been proven to be safe for pregnant women, it is essential that you chose the exercise that you can do with most ease, without challenging your body too much and exerting unnecessary pressure on your uterus, back or your joints.
1. Walking –
A great exercise for pregnant ladies, as it puts less stress on your body, especially knees. Start slow and build a pace that seems comfortable to you. Also make sure you wear good shoes that are comfortable and have greater shock absorption to exert less pressure on your feet. You might need to invest in a new pair, especially if your feet are already swollen. The good thing about walking is that it is very safe to continue with this exercise right until the last days of your pregnancy.
2. Running/Jogging –
If you have been a runner or jogger all your life, it is a good idea to continue running even when pregnant. However, make sure that you have proper running shoes that will offer good shock absorption and talk to your doctor every month about the safety of your exercise routine. It may be possible that as you enter your last trimester, the doctor might ask you to stop jogging or running and switch to walking, for the safety of your baby. Avoid overheating at all costs and make sure you stay well hydrated during your jog/run. If you have never tried running, now is definitely not the time to give it a try.
Yoga is the most popular workout, preferred by pregnant women across the globe. It not only keeps you feeling fit, it also relieves stress and tension and brings about a feeling of well being. Most forms of yoga are very safe for you and your baby. If you still aren’t sure which yoga poses should be avoided, you can join one of the many ‘Yoga for mommy-to-be’ classes in your city or can even buy a DVD that can help you get started on the best yoga poses for pregnant women. Remember – do not overstretch or lie on your back for extended durations of time.
Swimming is one of the safest workouts for pregnant women. It tones your body without putting any unnecessary stress on your joints. Since the water supports your growing weight, it keeps you comfortable. Also, swimming makes it a lot easier to get a regular cardiovascular workout without the risk of overheating.
5. Stationary Cycling:
Stationary cycling is one of the best exercises for pregnant women. We don’t recommend actually bicycling for one simple reason – As your abdomen grows your centre of gravity shifts. With that, your risk of losing balance and falling increase drastically, and that can pose huge risks to you and your baby. This is why stationary cycling is a better option. However, as the belly grows, many woman start having acute backaches. If you feel any stress on your back, it is best to talk to your doctor about the safety of cycling before you start.
6. Kegel exercises –
Strengthening your Kegel muscles is a great way to be prepared for giving birth. As your kegel muscles strengthen, you gain more control over them. Also, toning these muscles brings relief from two of the most common problems related to pregnancy – haemorrhoids and a weak bladder. These exercises are also good for you post pregnancy as they promote perineal healing and help to make your pelvic muscles strong again. Practice kegel exercises everyday through your pregnancy for stronger muscles. The good news is that you can do these exercises anytime, anywhere.
Aerobics is a great way to increase your heart rate, stay fit and keep your muscles toned. However it is recommended that you take an aerobics class especially designed for pregnant women. The reason is the same – when pregnant, your centre of gravity changes which makes it tough to keep your balance. Also, avoid any form of exercise that involves leaping or jumping or any sudden jerky movements.
Exercises not recommended for pregnant women:
We have talked about the best exercises for pregnant women. So now let us talk about which exercises are NOT at all safe for you when you’re pregnant.
1. Skiing –
You would think that skiing should be fairly safe, especially since you will mostly be using your arms. But downhill skiing poses a huge risk for falling, considering that your sense of balance will be disrupted by your growing abdomen. Even water skiing is not recommended, as it poses risk for abdominal trauma.
2. Horseback riding –
Riding involves too many jerks and jolts, and can hurt your baby and you. Not only is there a risk of falling, the stress it puts on your uterus is not worth taking a chance with.
3. Stair climbing machine –
A stepper or stair climbing machine is also not recommended. There are high chances of you losing your balance and falling. Also, it puts undue stress on the uterus and back, especially in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters.
4. Skipping –
Jumping rope will put a lot of stress on your uterus and your knees, and there is again a very high risk of losing balance and falling.
Some helpful tips that can make all the difference:
Now that you know which exercises are safe for you and which ones aren’t, let us talk about a few other things that will play an important role in keeping you comfortable while you exercise.
- Wear lose clothing as this will ensure your body doesn’t overheat and keep you comfortable.
- A good Sports Bra is a must. As your pregnancy proceeds, your breast will enlarge and they will need good support while you exercise.
- Buy new shoes that fit your swollen feet and invest in a pair that offers great shock absorption.
- Make sure that you practice deep breathing exercises before and after your workout to keep your heart rate stable.
If you have any dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea or vaginal bleeding, stop exercising immediately and go for a checkup. Good luck with your pregnancy!
- Kate Middleton: How She’s Maintained A Healthy Pregnancy (hollywoodlife.com)
- Seated Pregnancy Yoga Poses (aerobicssteps.net)
- Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor with Kegel Exercises (passionpartiesbylesli.wordpress.com)