Yes You Can Still Exercise While Pregnant, Here’s How

Erin Bahadur Exercise, Lifestyle Leave a Comment

According to James Pivarnik, the vice president of the American College of Sports Medicine, “physicians aren’t trained to counsel pregnant women about exercise.” This means that there’s often a lot of misinformation surrounding what pregnant women can and can’t do.

A general guideline is that if you were active before becoming pregnant, you should continue to remain active while pregnant. The intensity of your exercise may decrease, but there’s no risk to a developing fetus to continue physical activity. The best thing to do is listen to your body as your pregnancy continues. If you’re feeling short of breath, slow down. If you find a certain position difficult, see if there’s a modification for that movement.

Many of the questions that I’ve heard from clients involve what types of exercises are appropriate and safe during each stage of pregnancy.

Despite what you may have heard over the years, there aren’t too many exercises that are unsafe to do during pregnancy. Because of increased blood flow and the compression of certain organs, it may be more difficult to do them, but they aren’t necessarily unsafe for mom or baby.

Lying on your back is ok

Lying on your back for exercise, for example, has often been cautioned against after the first trimester, but this is mainly because this position puts pressure on the vena cava, a major blood vessel returning blood to the heart. This can lead to feelings of nausea and dizziness, which is the main reason to avoid exercises on your back. While it’s not life-threatening, it is often unpleasant. A suitable exercise alternative can usually be found such as planks or standing core movements.

You can still take exercise classes or utilize equipment at the gym, but if you’re looking for ways to stay fit at home, here are some equipment options.

Equipment you already have at home

  • Chair – hold the back for stability or do seated exercises like tricep dips and bicep curls
  • Pillow – use for comfort during exercises on the floor

Equipment to Consider

  • Dumbbells – versatile to use for strength training
  • Yoga ball – helps support the back or allows you to sit comfortably while doing other exercises
  • Resistance bands – slightly different from dumbbells in that these provide resistance for your body to work against

Best exercises during pregnancy

  • YOGA
  • PILATES
  • SWIMMING
  • WALKING

Strengthening the muscles of the pelvic floor are important both before and after giving birth. A strong core and pelvic floor will make pushing easier with a vaginal delivery and will result in a shorter recuperation time post-delivery.

Here are just a few examples of core exercises you can do at home.

Standing crunches:

  1. Start in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Draw your belly button into your spine, tuck your pelvis slightly and bring your fingertips to your ears.
  3. Crunch forward and squeeze your abdominal muscles (just like you would do if you were lying on your back.)
  4. Release with control to complete one rep.

Standing oblique crunches:

  1. Start in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Draw your belly button into your spine, tuck your pelvis slightly and bring your fingertips to your ears.
  3. Crunch to one side and squeeze your oblique (side) abdominal muscles while bringing the knee of the same side up to meet your elbow (or as close as you can get it).
  4. Release with control to complete one rep.

Heel drops

  1. Lie on your back with your upper back, neck and head propped up above your heart with your palms on the ground along your sides for support.
  2. Bend both knees at the hips to 90 degrees and lift both heels up off the ground so that the feet are in-line with the knees.
  3. With control, engage your abs to lower one heel.
  4. Touch the ground gently before you raise it back up to starting position.
  5. Repeat on the opposite side and continue to alternate legs.  

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