When you’re pregnant, there are a lot of joyous and exciting things to look forward to. One of the best gifts you can give yourself during this time is to get up and stay active. Regular prenatal fitness has been proven to help reduce back pain, improve circulation, strengthen your bones and muscles, and even reduce labor time. At the same time, it’s important to be mindful of your body’s limitations and to practice safe exercises that won’t harm either you or your baby.
The main goals of prenatal fitness should be to maintain a healthy weight, develop and maintain strong muscles, build endurance, and increase flexibility. All of these can be achieved safely with a variety of exercises.
It’s important to discuss any exercise program with your healthcare provider before starting, particularly if you have any preexisting health conditions. In general, you should avoid any exercise that places you at risk of falling, and don’t overheat. Swimming can be an incredibly beneficial form of exercise during pregnancy, as it helps you keep cool and reduces stress on the joints. Yoga is another great option as it focuses on postural alignment, stretching, and strengthening your core. Pilates can help with balance too. Always start slowly before you increase the intensity, length, and frequency of your workouts.
At the beginning of pregnancy, consider light aerobic activities for 30 minutes per day, 3-4 times a week. This should increase to 5-6 times per week as your pregnancy progresses. When it comes to strength training, use light weights and focus on toning rather than building bulk. Rest when you need to, as tiredness and nausea are common in early pregnancy. Work towards non-weight bearing exercises such as swimming and water aerobics. As your pregnancy progresses, modify your moves to compensate for the added weight and shift in balance.
Exercise during pregnancy offers many benefits, but it’s always best to take it slow and listen to your body. It’s never too late to start a prenatal fitness routine, so why not give it a go today?