Wouldn’t it be nice if there was something you could do to relieve your aching back, swollen ankles, nausea, constipation, and bloating? Guess what? There is! It’s exercise. Safe pregnancy workouts can actually minimize many of the most common symptoms and side effects of pregnancy. That’s good for you and good for your baby. But what exactly are safe pregnancy workouts? Here at Mustela, we put together the 7 best safe pregnancy workouts to keep you happy and healthy while expecting.
Swimming is one of the best safe pregnancy workouts because it not only makes you feel good, but is also great exercise. The feel-good part comes from the fact that you’ll weigh 10% less in the water than you do on land. That can take the stress off your joints and ligaments that are loosening due to the various pregnancy hormones coursing through your system.
It’s incredible for your physical fitness, because swimming is a full-body exercise. It tones legs, arms, back, chest, everything! Put down the barbell and hit the pool! Swimming even improves lung capacity and strengthens your heart. If swimming laps isn’t your thing, consider trying water aerobics. You get many of the same health benefits, plus the added fun of a group activity.
2. Low-Weight, High-Rep Weight Lifting
Weight lifting is a great safe pregnancy workout because it’s low-impact. Additionally, it increases your muscle tone and endurance—both important for carrying the added weight of your baby. We recommend choosing lower weights coupled with reps in the 12 to 15 range. This will improve your strength while at the same time increasing muscular endurance. Muscular endurance is the ability to contract your muscles in a certain position for prolonged periods of time...like when you’re going through labor or holding a 20-pound baby.
Even if you have experience lifting weights, we suggest switching to exercise machines for the duration of your pregnancy. Machines can help you maintain your balance, which is often a little off kilter when you’re expecting. They can also help you limit your range of motion so you don’t injure yourself while working out.
Walking is one of the easiest ways to fit exercise into your busy day. It doesn’t require any special equipment or a membership to a gym or pool. All you need is a comfy pair of shoes, and you probably already have those!
The nice thing about walking is that it can be tailored to your specific fitness level. You can increase or decrease the intensity by walking faster or slower. You can go for short, fast walks, or opt for long, slow walks. Try carrying light weights for an added boost. As with any exercise routine, we recommend pacing yourself. Start out with short, slow walks—15 to 20 minutes—to give your body time to adjust. When you feel comfortable with that, you can pump up the speed or walk for longer.
Want a great preparation for the day your baby arrives? Try yoga. Yoga can help improve flexibility, focus, your ability to breathe through muscle contraction, and your ability to relax when under stress—all useful skills to have during labor.
We recommend taking a yoga class specifically tailored for the mommy-to-be. That will ensure that the poses are safe for your changing body. If you can’t find a prenatal yoga class, we suggest asking the instructor in a regular class to alter the poses to ensure they’re safe.
Running can also be a safe pregnancy workout if you adhere to a few simple rules. First, stick to level terrain so you don’t have to worry so much about balance and falling. Second, listen to your body. The hormones that make pregnancy possible also loosen ligaments and joints in preparation for birth. This loosening can make you more prone to injury with high-impact exercises like running.
Even if you’ve been running all your life, we suggest trying an elliptical machine. You will get all the cardio benefits of running without the impact on your joints and knees.
6. Stationary Cycling
Whether it’s called indoor cycling, spin, or something else entirely, stationary cycling can be a fun and safe pregnancy workout. Cycling takes the pressure off your joints while still allowing you to get your blood flowing. It doesn’t have to be just about speed either. You can adjust the tension on the bike to make pedalling easier or more difficult, so you can work your quads as hard as you want.
We suggest trying a group class to get some experience before transitioning to riding by yourself. Group classes make use of periodic sprints and hillclimbs, so make sure the instructor knows you’re pregnant and that you may sit out if you feel overheated or overtired.
Pilates’ main focus is on strengthening your core. This makes it an ideal safe pregnancy workout that will also prepare you for the delivery room. Additionally, strengthening your core can reduce back pain, improve your flexibility, and help you maintain your posture as your belly expands.
We recommend finding a prenatal Pilates class or asking an instructor to modify the exercises for you. That way, you won’t injure yourself or put undue stress on your baby.