Medical experts recommend exercise during pregnancy. Research shows that exercise during pregnancy can reduce bloat and swelling, increase energy, improve posture, increase strength, and improve overall muscle tone. Many types of exercises are safe and beneficial during each stage of pregnancy. While it is important to select the right exercise and not to overwork yourself, the medical and social research strongly support exercise and fitness before, during, and after pregnancy.
Is It Safe to Exercise During Pregnancy?
As recently as 2002, there was still serious debate among medical practitioners; there were scores of researchers asking the question, “Is it safe to exercise during pregnancy?” The early studies noted that both men and women lacked the recommended levels of exercise per week. While pregnancy often signaled a reduction in activity for women, there was an increased demand for fitness products, services, and information.
Exercise During Pregnancy
There are many exercises that you can do while pregnant and walking outdoors or on a treadmill is an excellent all-around exercise. If you need to select a treadmill for walking before and during pregnancy, iTrainer can offer insights for a responsive selection.
The following exercises are examples of movements that can aid your pregnancy, delivery, and recovery. Some will even improve posture during pregnancy. In addition to walking, a total-body workout can be done in as little as 30 minutes per day.
Step 1: Training the Legs
1.1. Doing Half-Squats
Loosen up with vigorous stepping for about one minute, and then stretch each leg by pulling one knee toward the chest. Stand comfortably with feet about shoulder width apart.
With hands on hips, slowly bend your knees and lower your body until you are about halfway down. Then, slowly straighten your legs. Repeat 5 to 10 times in two sets of squats. You can use your arms for balance by extending them straight in front of you as you move down and bringing them back to the waist as you stand.
1.2. Doing the Classic Lunge
Stand with feet apart at about shoulder width. Relax with hands on hips.
Step forward with the right leg only, about the distance of one comfortable step. Then, bend the knee and slowly drop your body until the knee touches the floor. Slowly straighten the right leg and stand. Return the right foot to the original position. Repeat the same motion with the left leg to complete one rep. You should do one set of 5 to 10 reps.
Step 2: Strengthening the Hips and Core
Opening the hips and toning the core is a vital part of a sound exercise program for pregnancy. The hips must accommodate stretching and added weight, and the core training will ease labor and delivery.
2.1. Do Some Plie Movements
A plie movement works directly on strengthening and adding flexibility to the hips. You will need this extra hip conditioning to help with the demands of pregnancy and delivery.
Plie Movements Preparation
Stand relaxed with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width. Turn the toes outward as far as is comfortable while remaining balanced. Relax for a few seconds to be sure of your balance, and then place your hands on your hips.
Plie Movements Technique
The plie is a slow descent and rise. Drop your body until your hips are slightly above your knees and then raise your body slowly. You should feel the movement in your hips and thighs.
2.2. Performing Hip Extension
Hip Extension Preparation
Stand relaxed with feet even and about shoulder width apart. Put your hands on your hips when doing this move during the first trimester; in the beginning and after the first trimester, you can use a chair for support while performing the movement.
Hip Extension Technique
Start with the right leg by putting your weight on your left foot. Point the toe of the right foot and raise it comfortably in front with the leg nearly stiff. Then, swing the leg back as far as you comfortably can while staying balanced. Repeat for about one minute or five swings. Then, put weight on the right foot and repeat the swing with the left leg.
Step 3: Performing Arm and Shoulder Exercises
Strong arms and shoulders will help the expectant mother and provide benefits for baby.
3.1. Perform Side and Front Raises
Side and Front Raises Preparation
Stand relaxed with arms at your sides. Your feet should be parted as wide as your hips.
Side and Front Raises Techniques
Lift your arms outward and up to shoulder level. Then, lower back to the start position with arms at your sides. Repeat 5 to 10 times for one set. You can do this movement with light, handheld weights. Some people use a 1-pound can in each hand. A variation is to raise the arm straight to the front and lower to the sides for one rep. You can perform this exercise throughout the pregnancy.
3.2. Do Kneeling Push-Ups
This floor exercise can help during the first and second trimester. During the final trimester, you could perform the movement while standing and leaning against a wall.
Kneeling Push-Ups Preparation
Get down on the floor carefully and on all fours. Walk forward on your hands about 1 foot to create a straight angle from the shoulders to the hips.
Kneeling Push-Ups Technique
With about one-third of your body weight on your arms and shoulders, slowly bend your arms at the elbow and go down until your body touches the floor. Then, push up and straighten the arms.
Starting Exercise During the First Trimester
When it comes to exercise during the first trimester, you have the freedom to work out similarly to how you did before getting pregnant. The uterus changes are noticeable but not enough to limit most activity. You can perform most body weight exercises throughout pregnancy.
Starting exercise during pregnancy is a good idea with benefits for baby too. Pregnancy will put many intense new demands on your body, and improved strength and fitness will help make pregnancy, birth, and recovery easier.
Do not do crunches or sit-up exercises after the first trimester. Doctors advise that women should not do crunches after the first trimester, and abdominal movements on the back should be limited to the early pregnancy. The expansion of the uterus after the first trimester creates a serious risk of cutting off blood flow, causing a dangerous level of dizziness and disorientation.
Fitness for Mother, Benefits for Baby
Some of the known benefits of exercise during pregnancy include a reduction in hypertension, gestational diabetes mellitus, and preeclampsia. Some studies have shown that improved blood and oxygen circulation can help mother and baby with healthy weight gain, and improved muscle tone can reduce the effects of labor and reduce the need for a cesarean delivery. Fitness reduces the likelihood of preterm birth as well. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health offers similar advice. They urge a pattern of active exercise consisting of at least two to three hours per week.
Yes, exercise is a safe and helpful activity for pregnant women; you should exercise during the first trimester and throughout the pregnancy. If you’re looking for safe and effective ways to exercise while expecting, consider a training package from iTrainer or find a personal fitness trainer in the iTrainer Directory.. Get just the information and training you need to stay in the best possible shape throughout your pregnancy.