Exercise is an essential habit for individuals of all ages to maintain a healthy lifestyle. But what about exercising when you’re pregnant? While many people believe you need to limit exercise during pregnancy, this is far from the truth. Regular exercise during pregnancy can actually improve your health, reduce many pregnancy-related risks, and make the delivery process easier. Additionally, exercising during pregnancy can give your newborn a healthy start as they enter the world and begin their beautiful life.

Finding the right exercise routine for yourself and your baby can be a struggle, especially for first-time moms. That’s why we’ve created the ultimate guide for safe and effective exercises during every trimester of your pregnancy. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of exercising while pregnant and the safest way to do so.

The Benefits of Exercising While Pregnant

Exercise for anyone can improve heart health, increase stamina, support a healthy digestive system, elevate mood, increase energy, enhance sleep, and keep your body functioning in its best capacity. Exercising during pregnancy is no different when it comes to health benefits. The only thing you need to keep in mind is that exercising while pregnant will most likely look different than how you worked out before you were pregnant.

Since every pregnancy is different, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider about exercise before you start. Make sure you stick to the right exercises for the right stages of your pregnancy. As long as you listen to your body and follow doctor’s orders, exercise during pregnancy will provide the following benefits:

  • Exercising during pregnancy will reduce your risk of excessive weight gain, which can be unhealthy for both you and your baby.
  • It can also help eliminate back issues and decrease many pregnancy symptoms that leave women in pain and discomfort.
  • Regular exercise helps prepare the muscles for childbirth, making delivery easier for those who do exercise than those who do not.
  • Exercise is a natural way to boost mood, so even it will help you feel your best.
  • Keeping your body in shape makes it easier to recover from childbirth post-delivery.
  • Most importantly, it gives your baby a healthier start to life.

Safe and Healthy Exercises for Pregnant Women

If you didn’t already follow an exercise routine before pregnancy, you should ease into exercise. Before you start your routine, keep the following points in mind:

  • Talk to your doctor about any precautions you need to take before you start a routine.
  • All pregnant women should stick to an exercise routine that is low-impact.
  • Listen to your body. If you think you need to stop before the end of your routine, make sure to do so.
  • Don’t overdo it. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggests expecting moms should get at least 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise per day, most days of the week. If you sincerely aren’t feeling up to that goal, don’t push yourself.
  • Staying fit doesn’t mean you need to go out and buy lots of expensive exercise equipment. Workouts can be simple and done in the comfort of your own home or neighborhood
  • Always keep your form in mind. It’s easy to injure yourself even when you aren’t pregnant if you don’t follow the proper form.

The safest, most effective exercise for pregnancy are those that carry little to no risk of injury and benefit your entire body. This will help you get the most of the time you spend working out. Here’s a list of six exercises that are safe to do during any trimester, as long as you have no medical restrictions during pregnancy.

1.   Brisk Walking

This is a great place to start if you are new to exercise or if you had some struggles during the first few weeks of your pregnancy. A quick stroll around your neighborhood won’t just get your body moving and keep you healthy, but it will also give you a chance to get outside in the fresh air. Walking is a cardiovascular exercise that limits the amount of impact sustained by your knees, ankles, and other parts of your legs.

What’s even better is that you can walk just about anywhere, it’s a free form of exercise, and it’s safe during all stages of pregnancy. As long as you feel ok, you can increase your speed and the intensity of your walk, even adding hills to your route. Before you engage in any type of walking exercise, keep a few basic safety tips in mind.

  • Choose smoothe surfaces to avoid slipping and falling.
  • Avoid paths with potholes, rocks, other obstacles, and uneven ground that could cause you to trip.
  • Wear supportive footwear that reduces your chance of having an accident.
  • Remember that as your pregnancy progresses, your center of gravity changes. This can affect your balance and coordination. Be aware of your body and your current circumstances and adjust accordingly.
  • Try to find a buddy to walk with so someone is with you in the event that you don’t feel well.

2.   Water Exercises

Water exercises have amazing benefits for people of all ages. They are particularly useful during pregnancy because they are low-impact and put little pressure on your joints. Water also offers some relief from your extra weight gain and can give you a better range of motion for your workouts. Swimming and walking in water are great options. Some communities even offer aqua aerobics that provides guided instruction in a class setting.

Before you begin any type of water exercises while pregnant, keep the following in mind:

  • There are a variety of different swimming strokes to choose from, so pick one that is comfortable for you as an individual. Avoid anything that strains your back, shoulders, or neck.
  • Always use the railing to balance when entering and exiting the water to prevent slipping on the wet surfaces.
  • Avoid jumping or diving. This can impact the abdomen and put a strain on your baby. Enter and exit the water with the stairs or ramp.
  • Stay away from hot tubs, warm pools, and saunas. These can lead to overheating, increased blood pressure, and other cardiovascular issues that could be troublesome during pregnancy.
  • If you’re having trouble easing into water exercises, use a kickboard to help keep yourself afloat and limit your work. It can also be a great tool to strengthen your lower body.

3.   Riding a Stationary Bike

Stationary bikes are an amazing tool for pregnant women because they provide cardiovascular exercise without putting a lot of stress on your joints. Because the bike doesn’t move, it lowers your risk of falling. Sitting also helps support your body weight. A few safety tips to keep in mind when cycling are:

  • Always wear comfortable, proper-fitting shoes to avoid injury.
  • Wait until the pedals have stopped completely before getting on or off the bike.
  • Position yourself in a way that is comfortable before you begin.
  • Take advantage of side handlebars to help maintain balance and keep you safe while cycling.
  • Use a higher handlebar during the later stages of pregnancy to increase comfort and avoid back problems.

4.   Yoga

Yoga is an exercise that helps strengthen muscles and stimulate blood circulation. It is also a resource for your mind as much as it is your body because it enhances relaxation. Since yoga helps you relax, it has also been known to lower blood pressure which is a problem for many pregnant women. Many gyms have prenatal yoga classes that are specifically aimed to keep your joints limber and help you maintain balance and flexibility. The techniques you learn in prenatal yoga can also help you stay calm during labor and breathe more effectively during the birthing process.

Before you engage in a yoga exercise during pregnancy, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Avoid positions that could cause you to lose your balance.
  • During the second and third trimesters, it’s best to avoid poses that involve lying flat on the abdomen or back. This puts excess weight on your major veins and arteries which can decrease blood flow to your heart.
  • Do your best not to overstretch.

5.   Low-Impact Aerobics Classes

A lot of people love to participate in aerobics classes and pregnancy shouldn’t stop you. In fact, low-impact aerobics classes are a safe way to get your daily exercise. Any type of aerobics helps strengthen the heart and lungs and maintain muscle tone, all things that will greatly benefit you during pregnancy and childbirth. With low-impact, you’ll get the same cardiovascular and muscular benefits without the jumping, kicking, and running that could be dangerous while you are pregnant.

Low-impact aerobics limits stress on your joints and help you maintain balance. Before you begin a routine that involves low-impact aerobics, keep the following safety tips in mind:

  • Keep one foot on the ground at all times.
  • Check to see if your community has low-impact aerobics classes that are specifically designed for pregnant women.
  • Choose an instructor that is trained to meet your needs. Talk to them before class so they can learn a little about you as you exercise with them.
  • If you already attend an aerobics class that’s deemed suitable for your current fitness level, inform your instructor about your pregnancy. They will be able to help you modify exercises and keep a closer eye on you as you progress through your pregnancy.

6.   Squats and Pelvic Tilts

There are some exercises that are specifically designed to help pregnant women through the process. While some are focused on specific restrictions or complications, squats and pelvic tilts are recommended for most women as they prepare for labor and delivery. According to the American Pregnancy Association, squats and pelvic tilts help open up the pelvis, reduce back pain, and strengthen the abdominal muscles.

When it comes to squats and pelvic thrusts, proper form is essential to avoid injury. Here’s a look at how to perform the two moves safely and effectively.

To squat safely:

  1. Stand on an even, flat surface with your feet flat on the floor. Feet should be positioned shoulder-width apart with your back straight.
  2. Lower yourself slowly as you keep your feet flat.
  3. Don’t allow your knees to go forward any further than your feet.
  4. Keep your chest up. Put your arms at a 45-degree angle out to either side if balance is an issue.
  5. Hold for 10-30 seconds depending on your comfort level and slowly return to a standing position.

To safely pelvic tilt:

  1. Slowly and carefully bring yourself down to the floor on your hands and knees.
  2. Tilt your hips forward to pull your abdomen in while arching the back.
  3. Hold for a few seconds, as long as you’re comfortable.
  4. Release the hold as you let the back drop.
  5. This movement can be repeated up to 10 times as long as you are comfortable.

With safe, effective pregnancy exercises, you are on your way to an easier pregnancy and childbirth. What better way to welcome your little bundle of joy into this world than by providing them with a safe, healthy start to their life. For more tips and advice on everything from pregnancy to parenting and more, sign up for our updates or register to ask questions for free.

Pregnancy exercises are an effective way to keep you and your baby healthy during every trimester. Read on for the ultimate guide to safe pregnancy exercises.