Maintaining your physical fitness during pregnancy helps you keep your weight gain to a moderate amount and maintain physical conditioning that will help during a long labor. Being active also helps prevent some of the aches and pains of pregnancy, including back pain and leg cramps. You may not be able to do all of your usual fitness activities, though, so follow these suggestions for safe exercise during your pregnancy.
Keep Up or Start a Lifting Routine:Â If you were lifting before you got pregnant, keep up that routine. However, you may want to reduce the weight and increase the number of reps to limit the chance of straining your changing muscles. You can even look intoÂ weight setsÂ for home so you can fit in a few sets of weight lifting exercises around your regular schedule during those days when you don’t want to go to the gym. Lifting weights speeds up your metabolism, maintains a healthy heart, and builds muscle strength. Remember that although most babies weigh in under 10 pounds at birth, they quickly put on the weight and can give you quite the workout as you carry them around for the first year!
Focus on Cardio:Â Even when you’re feeling crummy, a bit of cardio can help give you a mood and energy boost. It can also ease aching joints, provided you choose low-impact activities. Try to incorporate at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio to your routine at least 5 days per week. Even a brisk walk counts! Hop on a treadmill during your favorite TV show, get an elliptical workout in, or ride a stationary bike. Later in pregnancy, you may find thatÂ swimmingÂ and water aerobics are more comfortable for your ever-growing body.
Add Some Stretching:Â You may think that your flexibility is going to go out the window if you can’t even see your toes by the end of your pregnancy. However, you can still participate in prenatal yoga and PilatesÂ classesÂ to maintain your flexibility in a way that’s safe for you and baby. If classes won’t fit into your schedule or budget, look for a pregnancy yoga or Pilates DVD. Some even have sets with routines for each trimester. In addition to the physical benefits of these exercises, they will also help you take a mental break from your day and relax.
Post Baby Workouts:Â You should definitely plan some time in to rest after your baby is born, but once you have your doctor’s approval, go ahead and start exercising again to shed the last of the baby pounds. Walking or jogging with a stroller is a great workout you can take baby on. If you really want to shed the pounds, turn to interval training, where you give short bursts of high-intensity activity alternated with periods of active recovery to burn through the fat more quickly.
Your fitness isn’t something you should put on hold for nine months, and you and your growing baby will benefit from your exercise. Plus, if your body is used to exercising during pregnancy, it will be much easier to get back in the groove after baby arrives. As you exercise during pregnancy, just remember to follow your doctor’s recommendations and keep the intensity moderate to avoid straining yourself.