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Pregnancy Exercises to Stay Healthy and Strong

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pregnancy exercises

Pregnancy Exercises to Stay Healthy and Strong

Pregnancy exercises are safe at what intensity? Should you monitor your heart rate? What if you were an avid marathon runner before pregnancy, or if exercise wasn’t a part of your routine?

The good news is that your prenatal exercise doesn’t have to be overly restrictive. The prenatal body is not fragile but, in fact, stronger during pregnancy than at any other time. You have more superpowers, such as an increased ability to tolerate heat due to better heat dissipation.

pregnancy exercises

Despite this strength, it’s crucial to be wise about your exercise routine and pay attention to your body. In the following, prenatal fitness experts share insights on what to consider as your pregnancy progresses, along with their recommended exercises to keep you strong and feeling your best throughout all nine months.

During Pregnancy Safe and Beneficial Exercising during Pregnancy

According to the research, it is safe to continue your routine exercise or even start a new one during pregnancy unless you have medical complications or contraindications. However, it’s important not to initiate a high-intensity exercise plan that is entirely new to you during this time. Always consult with your consultant before committing to a prenatal exercise routine.

For those already engaging in vigorous exercise (up to 85% of maximum effort), maintaining this intensity during pregnancy is generally safe, as long as it remains comfortable. Modifications may be necessary as your pregnancy progresses. Research indicates that vigorous exercise in the third trimester is safe for both mother and baby and may even reduce the risk of premature birth.

Low-impact exercises like cardio, strength training, and yoga are considered safe during pregnancy. A prenatal and postnatal fitness program, advises adjusting exercises based on what feels comfortable for your body. Small modifications in range of motion can help make most favorite exercises safe during pregnancy.

Benefits of Pregnancy Exercises

Active pregnant women tend to have a lower risk of gestational diabetes, fewer cesarean births, and a shorter postpartum recovery period. Exercising may also contribute to preventing postpartum depression.

Safe Pregnancy Exercise: Tips for a Healthy Workout Routine

Exercising during pregnancy is generally considered safe, but it’s essential to be aware of potential risks. Regardless of your preferred prenatal exercise, follow these tips to reap the benefits without encountering downsides.

Check Your Effort:

While vigorous exercise, it is adviseable as more data are needed to determine potential intensity or duration thresholds that may pose risks to the fetus. To ensure safety, perform a talk test during cardio or strength training. If you can easily articulate a complete sentence, you are likely at a suitable intensity level. If speaking becomes challenging, consider dialing back the intensity. This method is simpler than heart rate monitoring, which can be complicated due to varying heart rates throughout pregnancy.

Protect Your Abs:

Pay close attention to your abdominal shape during exercise. If you notice a dome or cone shape instead of the usual roundness, modify your intensity or choose an alternative exercise. This shape indicates excessive pressure on the abs, potentially leading to diastasis condition where abdominal muscles overstretch and separate. Cates emphasizes the importance of preventing diastasis recti, as it can cause instability and future discomfort. Adjust your exercises accordingly to prioritize diastasis prevention throughout your pregnancy.

pregnancy exercises

Mindful Breathing and Exercise Adjustments During Pregnancy

Breathe with Purpose:

Embrace deep diaphragmatic breathing to support your body effectively. This method aids in bringing the pelvic floor and deep core muscles back into alignment. Instead of lifting your chest with each breath, focus on expanding your rib cage to the sides and back during inhalation. Apply this technique particularly during the eccentric phase of strength exercises when lowering the weight and inhale, then exhale during the concentric phase when lifting the weight.

Tune In and Adjust as Needed:

Pay attention to how your body feels during and after a workout. If you experience lower back pain or fatigue, consider trying different movements or making modifications. If you feel dizzy, light-headed, or nauseous while lying on your back, use a pillow for support or shift to a different position. These symptoms may indicate pressure on your vena cava, reducing blood flow to the baby.

Be Proactive About Your Pelvic Floor:

Take notice if you feel incontinent during a workout or anticipate an accident if you don’t urinate beforehand. These could be early signs of pelvic floor dysfunction. Ignoring these signs during activity may lead to more significant issues after childbirth, making it crucial to address them promptly.

Safe Exercise Practices for Pregnancy: Stretching and Best Exercises

  1. Stretch, but Not Too Deeply: When engaging in continuous exercises like pilates or yoga during pregnancy, approach each pose with caution. Due to increased relaxation hormones, which loosen muscles and ligaments during pregnancy, it’s crucial to be mindful. According to Cates, maintaining an active core is essential to prevent pushing your range of motion too far. Focus on engagement rather than going for deep stretches to ensure safety.
  2. Best Exercises for Pregnant Women: The effectiveness of prenatal exercise routines depends on individual preferences. Following exercise are recommended for each trimester.

Exercises for the First Trimester:

These moves concentrate on strengthening the legs, core, and pelvic floor while helping to prevent back pain.

Squat: Stand with feet hip- or shoulder-width apart, toes pointing straight ahead. Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell at chest height or use your body weight. Lower until thighs are parallel to the floor, then push up to stand.

Note: The subsequent exercises for the second and third trimesters are not provided in the given text. If you would like information on those exercises, please provide the relevant text.

pregnancy exercises

Exercises for the Second Trimester:

Hip Roll:

    • Benefits: Strengthens the pelvic floor, core, hamstrings, and glutes while keeping the spine active to prevent back pain.
    • Instructions: Lie down with knees bent, feet on the floor, and arms extended by your sides. Tilt the pelvis upwards, activating the pelvic floor. Imagine these muscles as a diamond between your pubic and tailbones and your two sitz bones. Gently pull the four corners and zip them up your torso. Push into the legs and hips, raising the body until it forms a straight line with the shoulders. Hold for a few seconds, then lower and bend at the bottom of the movement.

Bear Plank:

    • Benefits: Strengthens deep core muscles with less stress on the abdomen and lower back compared to the full plank.
    • Instructions: Start on all fours with feet bent and toes flat on the floor. Activate the pelvic floor, then press toes and hands evenly into the floor, lifting the knees an inch or two off the floor. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds or as comfortable, then lower.

Whole Body Vertical Rotation:

    • Benefits: Engages and releases the pelvic floor, stretches the back and upper torso.
    • Instructions: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, toes turned slightly toward you. Rotate to the left, lift the right heel, and reach the arms up and to the left. Activate the pelvic floor as you twist, forming a straight line from hands to the right foot. Return to the start and repeat on the opposite side.

Modified Squat:

    • Benefits: Provides squat benefits (strengthens legs, pelvic floor, and core) while accommodating a growing belly.
    • Instructions: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, toes slightly turned out. Lower into a squat position, ensuring comfort for the growing belly. Optionally, use dumbbells or kettlebells. Lower until thighs are parallel to the floor, then stand up.

Standing Cat Cow:

    • Benefits: Engages and releases the pelvic floor, stretches the upper back and chest, strengthens the core, hips, and back, and reduces back pain.
    • Instructions: Stand in front of a table or countertop at hip height, placing hands on the edge. Lift your head, take a deep breath, and let your stomach sink forward toward the edge. Exhale, lower the head, and round your back.

Exercises for the Third Trimester:

Ball Extrusion:

Benefits: Stretches the back and reduces back pain.

Instructions: Kneel in front of a large exercise ball with your hips resting on your heels. Place your lower arms on the ball and lean forward. Take deep breaths, focusing on relaxing and releasing your pelvic floor and deep core muscles.

Squat Plus:

Benefits: Strengthens the legs, pelvic floor, and core while accommodating a large stomach.

Instructions: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart or slightly turned out. Lower slightly, as much as feels comfortable, then push back to standing. Keep the movement short and sharp.

Child’s Pose:

Benefits: Stretches the back and reduces back pain, reduces pressure on the hips.

Instructions: Start with wide hips to make room for your belly. Push back, lower your hips to the floor between your knees, and extend your arms on the floor overhead. Hold the position as long as it feels comfortable.

In the last trimester of pregnancy, these exercises aim to help you stay strong for labor and alleviate common pregnancy aches and pains.

Cardio During Pregnancy:

Feel free to continue with your usual aerobic activities during pregnancy, but it’s essential to consult with your consultant for personalized recommendations. Regular cardio can lower glucose levels in women with gestational diabetes.

Whether it’s cycling, dancing, or running, there’s no need to monitor your heart rate. Instead, focus on the talk test, suggests Cates, and engage your pelvic floor muscles as you move. It’s crucial to be mindful of your core and pelvic floor during cardio-based movements, as descending without proper care can stress the pelvic floor, which is already under pressure to support your growing belly.

How Much Efforts Should I Do During Pregnancy Exercises?

Aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. While an extended power walk on a Saturday is excellent, it’s preferable to break up the 150 minutes into smaller, regular sessions throughout the week.

Tips on Pregnancy Exercises:

Discuss your exercise routine with your consultant during early pregnancy check-ins and anytime concerns or pain arise throughout the nine months. Generally, exercising during pregnancy offers numerous benefits with minimal risks.

Cates emphasizes that pregnant women can often do more than traditionally advised, and making slight adjustments to beloved movements can significantly enhance your experience, keeping you active and feeling great throughout pregnancy.


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