Pregnancy

Stay Fit for Two: Pregnancy Exercises You Can Do Safely

pregnancy exercises
Written by Stephanie McClane

Did you know that most women gain up to 35 pounds during pregnancy?

Weight gain during pregnancy is inevitable. After all, a little human is growing inside! But that doesn’t mean expecting mothers can’t stay fit, either.

If you’re pregnant, you may not be able to exercise the same way you normally do. But there are plenty of safe and fun pregnancy exercises you can still enjoy.

Here’s how you can stay fit for two and exercise safely during pregnancy!

Is It Safe to Exercise While Pregnant?

When a woman discovers she is pregnant, all sorts of questions will run rampant in her mind. “What types of physical activities can I no longer do?” is often one of the first ones.

Contrary to popular belief, exercise during pregnancy is not a danger or a risk to the baby. In fact, exercising while pregnant is one of the best things new mothers can do.

Exercise will not only keep pregnancy weight gain within a healthy and normal range. It will help you stay stimulated and stress-free, as well.

As the life inside you grows, your body is going to go through all sorts of changes. Your hormones are going to fluctuate and you’ll find yourself having good days and bad. Exercising can help you cope with the emotional ups and downs of pregnancy – and so much more.

You’ll maintain healthy blood pressure and soothe back pain. You can even bond with other expecting mothers, too.

Low-impact exercise is key. The less stress you put on your knees, ankles, and joints, the better. You may need to put away the heavyweights for the next 9 months… but there’s still plenty of pregnancy exercises you can do!

Brisk Walking

Aerobic exercise is crucial during pregnancy. It’s important to get your blood flowing to better deliver nutrients and oxygen to your baby. Aerobic exercise will even prepare you for labor.

Early in your pregnancy, you may be able to continue jogging as you normally do. But as you move along into the second and third trimesters, running may become harder to do.

Brisk walking is a sure way to get your cardiovascular exercise while pregnant. It’s beneficial to your heart, lungs, and overall circulation. But it can strengthen your ankles and core muscles, too.

Aim to speed walk anywhere from 20-30 minutes per day. Listening to your body is key, so if you need to slow down or stop, by all means, do so. Don’t walk to the point of exhaustion.

Swimming

As your baby grows, the weight will begin to put more stress on your body. During the third trimester especially, your body may feel too fatigued most days. So, what exercises can you do while pregnant that will help you cope with aches and pains?

Swimming is one of the best pregnancy exercises out there – and for a handful of reasons. For one thing, swimming will help you get your aerobic exercise in. But more importantly, it can relieve you of the stress pregnancy puts on your body.

You’ll feel weightless while floating and swimming in the water. You’ll improve your circulation and relieve foot and ankle swelling in the process.

Hot flashes are common during pregnancy. Exercise is a good way to cope with hot flashes, and swimming adds the extra benefit of cool water.

Swimming also promotes muscle growth, which can help you prepare for labor. Aim to swim for 30 minutes at a time and stick to basic breast and back strokes at moderate paces.

Prenatal Yoga

What are some other exercises that can help you cope with the stress of pregnancy?

Prenatal yoga is popular for a reason. During prenatal yoga, you’ll practice engaging your muscles that you’ll use during childbirth. You’ll also practice mindful, deep breathing, which will come in handy during labor.

Prenatal yoga can also reduce stress, anxiety, and help you sleep better. Plus, the stretches you’ll do will work to relieve nausea and back pain.

Exercises to Avoid During Pregnancy

High impact, contact sports are the main thing to avoid while pregnant. If you run the risk of getting hit or falling, you shouldn’t do it. This includes (but is not limited to):

  • Soccer
  • Volleyball
  • Basketball
  • Skiing

You should avoid heavy weight lifting that requires you to engage your knees and joints. You can perform light weight lifting with small dumbbells. Be sure to talk to your doctor about weight lifting exercises before performing them on your own.

You should avoid jumping, skipping, bouncing, and waist-twisting movements, as well. You should never do any sport or activity that requires you to hold your breath. While swimming, you should stick to the surface of the water and avoid jumping in.

The important thing is to keep a steady exercise regimen. You can throw your body off kilter by engaging in heavy exercise followed by stagnancy.

Stay Safe While Exercising

Before exercising while pregnant, talk to your doctor. Your doctor can advise you about which activities are best for you and baby. If you run the risk of complications, they can point you to exercises that won’t exacerbate these.

Staying hydrated is one of the most important things you can do. Pregnant women should drink a minimum of 10 glasses of water each day. If you’re working up a sweat every day, you should aim to drink more.

Wear comfortable, supportive shoes at all times – especially when brisk walking. Even when you’re doing chores around the house, make sure you’re supporting your feet.

Paying attention to the weather is important, as well. You should avoid exercise in sweltering heat or freezing cold weather. You can always exercise indoors on a treadmill, an elliptical, or on a yoga mat.

Keep Mom & Baby Healthy with Pregnancy Exercises

Pregnancy can pose many new physical challenges to expecting mothers. Exercise will not only help you stay fit but can even help you cope with these challenges.

Most importantly, pregnancy exercises will ensure you and your baby stay healthy… and that’s what truly matters!

As you begin exercising while pregnant, make sure you’re staying nourished. Check out our pregnancy nutrition blog to stay on top of the latest tips and information!

About the author

Stephanie McClane

Hi, I’m Stephanie. I graduated college with a business degree and a minor in biology. I met my husband at a business convention and was happily marriage and pregnant within the first two years after saying the words “ I do”.

Jennifer is the eldest of the three. Being pregnant with her, my first, I researched everything pregnancy related and read nearly every book. Giving birth to Anthony and Matty seemed more natural and less stressful the third time around.

I’m happy to share what knowledge I have gathered and learn new things from other mothers. From morning sickness to Anencephaly, or potty training to thumb sucking, I have books and resource guides to share.