Okay. So we know that working out while pregnant is important for our own health, and for the health of our growing baby, but many questions still loom about which exercises are best to support our growing belly. If you’re asking yourself what you should be doing to keep your pregnant body in shape, look for workouts that restore balance and relaxation to the body. Here are a few pregnant workout favorites from the experts:
*Water Aerobics or Swimming
*Pilates and Calisthenics (minus intense abdominal exercises)
All these exercises boost strength and flexibility, and are easy on joints. They also increase oxygenation, better posture, and prepare for labor and delivery (not to mention getting back in shape post-partum!)
*Kegals (are important for a strong core, great sex, continence, and a better delivery and recovery.)
WALKING (possibly with hand weights). Walking is a favorite type of exercise for millions around the world, regardless of health or position. It is a very natural movement, and a very easy movement. It’s low impact, can be done anywhere, and is low-cost (do invest in a pair of comfy, great-support shoes). Walking aids in posture. It helps to stretch the muscles in stride. While walking, think about lengthening the spine and lifting the sternum. This will engage the core and promote standing erect. (Which will in turn help to prevent back pain.)
If walking feels too easy for your fitness level, try ramping it up by walking stairs (be sure to keep your heart rate at a comfortable rate of exertion—stairs skyrocket the heart rate pretty quickly), or you can try hand weights or a weight vest, which will also ramp up the heart rate. Start with only a couple of pounds—you’ll be surprised at how much more effective your workouts become.
WATER AEROBICS. On top of being a social experience, water aerobics is fantastic for alleviating joint soreness, backaches, and the heavy, uncomfortable feeling that pregnancy may bring. Many times, ladies are heavier when pregnant than they’ve ever been before, so the weight alone is hard on the frame of their body. Being in the water can be wonderful for feeling weightless, and therefore, for letting the body kinks (like sore backs and swollen ankles) have a little break. It’s also great for strength building, as the body has to resist the water. If you’re up for it, try a water class that uses water weights. Your arms will appreciate the strength and toning. And your core will feel stronger as you must navigate and stay upright through the pool water.
SWIMMING. If a water aerobics class seems too strenuous, try swimming. You will still derive all the benefits of being in the water, including the fabulous feeling of weightlessness, but you will also be able to set your own pace.
YOGA (Prenatal Yoga is even better!) Yoga has long been the exercise notorious for healing aches and pains. It is unparalleled for aiding in good posture, because it STRETCHES the body, and then STRENGTHENS it. Stretching is wonderful, but if your body has tendencies of poor posture (which all bodies do), then the body will sooner return to its old postures. Yoga strengthens while it stretches, helping the muscles to retain their new position, and aiding in good posture and body alignment. Yoga also promotes deep breathing, and teaches breathing techniques. Deep Breathing will be beneficial to enhancing mood, healing ailments, dropping stress, and assisting you to stay relaxed through your labor and delivery.
CALISTHENICS / PILATES. Calisthenics and Pilates are popular for improving overall strength, leaning out muscles, and improving posture. They are also very gentle and can be done during pregnancy. Keeping a proper alignment of the body may sound like homework—and it is—but keeping proper alignment also means less aches and pains along the way. (Be gentle when doing abdominal work—focus on pelvic tilts, breath work, and contracting the abdominal floor rather than doing crunch work.)