Should you exercise during your pregnancy? During your first trimester, it can be hard to even get out of bed let alone exercise, because you are so exhausted. However, I am a big fan of exercise during pregnancy. Not only does it surprisingly give you more energy, it also boosts your mood, improves sleep, and helps with the aches and pains of pregnancy. Exercise strengthens your muscles for labor and delivery, and makes it much easier to get back to normal after the birth of your baby.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends pregnant women exercise for at least 30 minutes per day most days of the week. You want to get your heart pumping, increase your flexibility, manage weight gain, and prep your muscles, but you also need to make sure you don’t overdo it and cause stress for you or the baby.
If you were exercising before your pregnancy, there is no reason to stop once you get pregnant. Many women continue to run or weight train during their pregnancies. However, you do not want to start a rigorous routine when you are pregnant if you were not a big exerciser beforehand. Modify your workouts based on your fitness level and speak to your doctor about what the best plan would be for you.
Some people may think that pregnancy limits your exercise. That is true to an extent, but there are SO many things you can do during your pregnancy for exercise. Here are some of my favorites that you can do at home or on your own:
Since crunches are off the table for me during pregnancy (I am afraid of that ab split! No thank you!), planks are a GREAT alternative to keep your core strong. My favorite are the elbow and side planks. When in elbow plank, make sure to keep your back flat so that it’s not drooping as that will put stress on your back. Hold for as long as you are able!
Side leg lifts are great for the outside of your legs and your boo-tay. Move your leg up and down on each side. For the second version of the leg lift, start on all fours and push one leg out and up. Then bring it back in toward your chest and repeat. This exercise is really good for the hamstrings and the boo-tay as well.
Push-ups of course work that upper body! If you have been doing regular push-ups before your pregnancy, then you could go ahead and continue. If not, then you may want to do push-ups on your knees or against a wall to be safer.
For regular squats, place your legs shoulder width apart, keep your chest up and your shoulders back. Look up and make sure to put your weight on your heels. Pretend like you are sitting back in a chair and make sure your knees are behind your toes. You will definitely feel the burn in your quads and glutes! For plié squats or wide squats, open up your stance and your will feel those inner thighs getting strong.
Walking is one of the best exercises you can do while pregnant. Walk at a quicker pace to get that heart rate up as well, and make sure to always stretch. Stretching (especially lower body) is really great overall to prep your body for labor and delivery.
Step-Ups are fantastic for your legs and bum, and also counts as cardio!
Start with your feet flat and raise up to your tippy toes. Repeat for at least 30 reps. You can do each leg separate or at the same time–whichever is more comfortable for you. Your calves might be screaming by the end, but they will be strong and toned as well.
One of the most relaxing ways to build strength, tone, and stretch during your pregnancy. Some of my favorite poses include downward dog, upward dog, warrior 2, warrior 3, and child’s pose. As someone with an ever-aching back, it only gets worse during pregnancy, so these yoga poses really do wonders for me. I have actually been participating in PiYo for the past couple months which is a combination of yoga and pilates. It’s a faster paced program that keeps you moving the whole time, and I have felt so much stronger and healthier in my pregnancy this time around because of it. Happy to share more info if you are interested!
Last but not least, one of my favorite exercises during pregnancy…dancing! I hope I don’t really look like this when I dance. Maybe I do. I’m a nerd and was trying to end this post on a silly note, but in all seriousness, dancing is a fantastic (and fun!) way to stay active and fit during your pregnancy.
Some other exercises not pictured here that are wonderful during pregnancy include: swimming, low-impact aerobics, pelvic tilts, seated rows, weight training, running (if you were a runner before), and spinning or barre classes.
Did you stay active during your pregnancy? If so, what was your favorite way to exercise?
Hope you all have a fabulous weekend!
P.S. Nico had his first photo shoot for an ad catalog yesterday (my husband’s company.) He got to model the most adorable lion coat! It was pretty cute, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out! Stay tuned. :-)