When you’re pregnant, you have lots of questions, about what to do, what activity should avoid, what needs to change, and what can stay the same. You might also be wondering if exercise is safe during pregnancy? In a simple word, yes – it’s absolutely safe and provides a beneficial effect on your body!
Now, you need to know that staying active is at the top of the list to keep performing for the next 9 months. But whether you’re looking to continue your current workout routine or adopt a new one now, we’ve got you covered. From cardio and strength training to stretching, balance, and core exercises, here’s everything you need to know about staying fit during your pregnancy.
- At your first prenatal care checkup, ask your health care provider whether exercise during pregnancy is safe for you.
- Women who have not previously been active should begin slowly and progress with low intensity or shorter durations (<10 minutes each day) and/or perform the intermittent activity.
- Healthy pregnant women need at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity, such as walking or swimming, each week.
- Regular physical activity can help reduce your risk of pregnancy complications and ease pregnancy discomforts, such as back pain.
- Some activities, such as basketball, hot yoga, downhill skiing, horseback riding, and scuba diving, aren’t safe during pregnancy.
What Exercises are Safe During Pregnancy?
Taking a brisk walk is a great workout that doesn’t strain your joints and muscles. If you’re new to exercise, this is a great activity.
The water supports the weight of your growing baby and moving against the water helps keep your heart rate up. It’s also easy on your joints and muscles. If you have low back pain when you do other activities, try swimming.
Riding a stationary bike
This is safer than riding a regular bicycle during pregnancy. You’re less likely to fall off a stationary bike than a regular bike, even as your belly grows.
Wide-stance squats with a dumbbell
Hold a dumbbell vertically in front of your chest with both hands cupping the dumbbell head. Your feet should be twice hip-width apart.
Push your hips back and lower your body into a squat until your upper thighs are at least parallel to the floor. Keep your back straight, chin forward and weight tight to the chest. Pause, then retract back to starting position.
Lie on your back with your knees bent. Tighten your abdominal muscles. Raise your hips off the floor until your hips are aligned with your knees and shoulders. Hold for three deep breaths.
- Allow your shoulders and lower back to fall heavily to the floor.
- Draw your shoulders down away from your ears. To get into the starting position, lift your hands so your elbows are above your shoulders with your fists facing in toward each other.
- Lift your legs so your knees are directly over your hips.
- On an exhale, slowly lower your right arm and left leg until they’re just above the floor.
- On an inhale, bring them back to the starting position.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
- This is 1 rep.
- Begin on all fours in the tabletop position.
- Place your knees under your hips and your hands under your shoulders.
- Maintain a neutral spine by engaging your abdominal muscles.
- Draw your shoulder blades together.
- Raise your right arm and left leg, keeping your shoulders and hips parallel to the floor.
- Lengthen the back of your neck and tuck your chin into your chest to gaze down at the floor.
- Hold this position for a few seconds, then lower back down to the starting position.
- Raise your left arm and right leg, holding this position for a few seconds.
- Return to the starting position. This is 1 round.
Start by standing tall with your feet parallel and shoulder-width apart. Your back should be straight and your weight on your heels. Take a big step to the side and, ensuring you keep your torso as upright as possible, lower it until the knee of your leading leg is bent at around 90°, keeping your trailing leg straight. Push back up and return to the starting position.
Low-impact aerobics classes.
During low-impact aerobics, you always have one foot on the ground or equipment. Examples of low-impact aerobics include walking, riding a stationary bike, and using an elliptical machine. Low-impact aerobics don’t put as much strain on your body that high-impact aerobics do. During high-impact aerobics, both feet leave the ground at the same time. Examples include running, jumping rope, and doing jumping jacks. Tell your instructor that you’re pregnant so that they can help you modify your workout, if needed.
Strength training can help you build muscle and make your bones strong. It’s safe to work out with weights as long as they’re not too heavy. Ask your provider about how much you can lift.
Side-Lying Inner and Outer Thigh
Lie on your right side, head supported by your forearm, right leg bent at a 45-degree angle, and left leg straight. Place your opposite arm on the floor for stability. Lift left leg to about hip height and repeat for reps.
Get down on your hands and knees, wrists directly under your shoulders. Lift your knees and straighten your legs behind you until your body forms a straight line. Don’t arch your back or let your belly sag.
Hold for 1 to 2 breaths, working up to 5 breaths.
You don’t need to belong to a gym or own special equipment to be active. You can walk in a safe area or do exercise videos at home. Or find ways to be active in your everyday life, like doing yard work or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
Benefits of doing Exercise during Pregnancy
In their most recent guidelines, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) announced in reference to women’s exercise during pregnancy can lead to a lower incidence of:
- Preterm birth
- Cesarean birth
- Gestational diabetes mellitus
- Excessive gestational weight gain
- Gestational hypertensive disorders
- Lower birth weight
For healthy pregnant women, regular exercise also can:
- Keep your mind and body healthy.
- Maintain physical fitness.
- Reduce low back pain.
- Help to reduce your stress and provide better sleep.
- Help you gain the right amount of weight during pregnancy.
- Help reduce your risk of having a cesarean birth ( also called a c-section). Cesarean birth is surgery in which your baby is born through a cut that your doctor makes in your belly and uterus.
- Improve postpartum recovery.
Safety tips for exercises while pregnant
At your first prenatal care checkup, ask your health care provider whether exercise during pregnancy is safe for you or not – this thing is compulsory.
While during pregnancy there are plenty of activities that need to be removed from your current regimen and the majority of exercises can be continued throughout each trimester that increased your strength stability, and physical adaptability as your body changes.
With that in mind, here are some general safety tips to consider when exercising during pregnancy, according to the ACOG.
- Avoid contact sports that put you at risk of getting hit in the abdomen, including ice hockey, boxing, soccer, and basketball
- Avoid activities that may result in a fall, such as downhill snow skiing, water skiing, surfing, off-road cycling, gymnastics, and horseback riding
- “Hot yoga” or “hot Pilates,” may cause you to become overheated, so avoid it
- Avoid activities performed above 6,000 feet (if you do not already live at a high altitude)
- Drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise
- Wear supportive clothing such as a supportive sports bra or belly band.
- Don’t become overheated, especially during the first trimester.
- Avoid lying flat on your back for too long, especially during the third trimester.
Which exercises should be avoided during pregnancy?
Any exercise that may cause even mild abdominal trauma, including activities that include jarring motions or rapid changes in direction. Activities that require extensive jumping, hopping, skipping, or bouncing. Deep knee bends, full sit-ups, double leg raises, and straight-leg toe touches. Bouncing while stretching.
What is the most important exercise during pregnancy?
Most exercises are safe to perform during pregnancy, as long as you exercise with caution and do not overdo it. The safest and most productive activities are swimming, brisk walking, indoor stationary cycling, step or elliptical machines, and low-impact aerobics (taught by a certified aerobics instructor).
In which month should I start exercise during pregnancy?
You can start exercising at any time during your pregnancy. Even if you’re used to being active, you’ll need to adapt your activities a bit as your bump gets bigger.
Can you do squats while pregnant?
Pregnant women may choose to incorporate squats into their weekly exercise routine. Squats can offer many benefits for both you and your baby-to-be during pregnancy, labor, and after delivery. Squatting during labor and delivery may help open your pelvis, assisting in the baby’s descent.
What exercise is good for easy delivery?
Deep squats help relax and lengthen the pelvic floor muscles and stretch the perineum. Stand with your legs wider than hip-width. Slowly squat down as far as you can go with your hands pressed together in front of you. Your physical therapist can talk with you about how often and how many deep squats you should do.