Top 5 Exercises to Try During Pregnancy
When you’re expecting, one of the most important things you can do is keep fit. Women who do regular exercises during pregnancy experience less pains and aches, get better sleep, and have more energy. Pregnancy exercises also help to prepare you for childbirth by building endurance and strengthening muscles. Here are the five most effective exercises for pregnant women:
You don’t need fancy equipment to strengthen your body during pregnancy. Simply going for regular walks will keep you fit without jarring your ankles and knees. Most women can safely do it right up to delivery. Build it into your daily routine by aiming to walk for about 30 minutes each day. Instead of driving or taking the bus, take a walk if you can. Try to increase your speed and time each week.
Swimming is an enjoyable and effective pregnancy exercise. It’s a great way to get in your weekly workout while also offering relief from common pregnancy aches and pains. In the water, you feel light and limber because you weigh about a tenth of what you do on land. Swimming is therefore a particularly relaxing exercise for pregnant women carrying all those extra pounds. It’s gentle on the ankles and joints, and also helps to get rid of nausea and sciatic pain.
Doing Kegel exercises during pregnancy is very beneficial when it comes time for labor and delivery. Kegels help to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which have to support more and more weight as you get further into your pregnancy. To do them, squeeze your pelvic muscles as if you’re trying to stop urinating or passing gas. Hold for five seconds, then relax. Repeat the process 10 times, about five times a day. The earlier you start doing these exercises, the better.
Prenatal yoga classes offer many benefits. Not only does it give you the opportunity to meet other pregnant women, but it helps you to stay relaxed, tone your muscles, keep you limber and improve your circulation and balance, all without aggravating your joints. Yoga is a calming exercise for pregnant women, giving you the physical and emotional stress relief your body needs. Yoga is also very useful for learning the right breathing techniques, which will help when you’re in labor.
While new workouts often shouldn’t be attempted for the first time during pregnancy, gentler kettlebell exercises such as squats can be a great way to maintain strength during your first and second trimesters. To perform a kettlebell globe squat, first stand up straight with your feet a hip width apart, holding the kettlebell with both hands at chest height. Your elbows should be in by your rib cage and not lifted up to your sides. Next, hinge your hips back and bend the knees to squat down like you are sitting, before squeezing your glutes as you return to a standing position. Do 1-3 sets of 12 repetitions at a slow, controlled pace, and remember to keep your shoulders back and down and to keep a straight back. Lastly make sure to draw your bellybutton towards your spine to give greater support to your lower back.
It’s important to do ab exercises during pregnancy because it helps reduce the pressure your belly puts on your back. The plank is a common technique as it specifically targets the abdominals and keeps the spine in a neutral position. To do a plank, get down on your hands and knees with your wrists sitting directly under your shoulders. Then lift your knees and straighten your legs so that your body is in a straight line, and hold this position for 10-60 seconds. If you see any coning at all, stop immediately and perform plank on your knees, or place your hands on a table or the wall for an elevated plank.
Although these are all proven to be safe exercises for pregnancy, it is always best to consult your doctor before starting to exercise. Once you’re given the green light, set up a weekly exercise regime, set goals for yourself and make sure to keep it up.
Kristin McGee is a celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor in New York City. She is the star of over 100 videos, a contributing editor at Health Magazine and a spokeswoman for many brands and causes she believes in. Kristin also appears frequently on television. A proud mom to three, she sure keeps herself busy!