Being pregnant doesn’t you have to give up all forms of exercise. In fact, you should still do some exercise to ensure a healthy pregnancy—if your doctor or midwife gives you the all clear, of course!
When you’re pregnant, there are likely some exercises that you would like to do but can’t for some reason. You will need to adapt your training schedule, both in intensity and the type of workouts that you do. There are types that you need to avoid for the safety of your baby and you and other types you’ll want to avoid for comfort.
Low impact workouts are going to be the most beneficial for you. They’ll strength your core, improve your flexibility and health, and prevent damage to your joints and back while carrying that extra load. The workouts will also be good for improving your circulation, helping to reduce the swelling you can experience. Then there are the weight benefits. While you don’t want to lose weight, you do want to keep your weight gain within a healthy range, and some low impact workouts will help ensure that’s possible.
Here are seven low impact workouts for pregnant women. Many of them you’ll be able to do to help reduce some of the symptoms of pregnancy. Of course, it’s always best to talk to your doctor or midwife first.
Book a Prenatal Yoga Class
Yoga is an excellent form of exercise to do during pregnancy. However, you need to find the right type of yoga class. This isn’t just about avoiding the classes that involve you getting extremely sweaty—although you do want to avoid hot yoga. You want to find classes that avoid the chances of your baby blocking a vital artery.
In most yoga, you will spend a lot of time on your back. These aren’t recommended exercises for pregnant women due to the artery that runs down your back. You’ve likely heard your doctor or midwife suggest you sleep on your left side to avoiding this artery. While you can talk to your current yoga instructor about modifying your exercises, there are benefits to opting for a class specifically designed for pregnancy.
A prenatal yoga class will offer you the benefit of exercises designed for your current situation. You have an instructor who will understand the full risk of doing a normal yoga class and will make sure you still get all the benefits without the risks.
At the same time, you’ll meet other pregnant women. There will be women at all stages of pregnancy, with some already current moms and others first-time moms. This is an excellent way to get more advice, to share ups and downs with people who do understand and get exercising benefits at the same time.
If you’re struggling with pain during pregnancy, prenatal yoga can also be more beneficial than normal yoga. The people there understand that pain. Some of them have also had it or currently got it and found ways to manage it. You’ll have an instructor who will help further modify your yoga positions to take the pressure off places.
And when you have your baby, you have support there. If you happen to go into labor while at the class, the women around you won’t freak.
Take Up Swimming
If you don’t currently swim, start taking up some classes now. Those who already swim will want to modify some of their strokes, but you’ll certainly enjoy this low impact workout during your pregnancy.
The benefit of swimming is from the water. It takes your weight, allowing you to feel weightless while you swim. This is excellent during pregnancy, especially in the later stages when you feel like an overweight mess. Being weightless for a short period will help to ease some of the pain felt from the extra weight you’re currently carrying.
You can do a range of strokes to make the most of this low-impact workout. Front crawl is one of the favorites because it involves little work for your hips. You can work your shoulders and arms and improve your core at the same time.
Some women will opt for breaststroke, because of the easier workout. You can enjoy a social trip to the pool with other moms and friends, while you stretch your hips and legs. If you suffer from a lot of hip and thigh pain, you’ll want to try breaststroke at first but not do it if it hurts too much.
There’s no need actually to do any swimming strokes. Consider walking up and down the pool. This is an excellent way to get the aerobic exercise without the weight of the baby. You can also do a few exercises holding onto the side. Don’t use any extra weights if you’re not used to them.
Try Out Aqua Aerobic Classes
Following on from swimming, aqua aerobics is something that you’ll want to consider doing. This is a fun way to spend your time, while you feel weightless from the bump. You get all the benefits of the swimming but without the feeling of the monotonous forward and back movement. Those who don’t like swimming lengths because they get bored will want to try out one of these classes.
You’ll want to discuss your pregnancy with your instructor. There may be some exercises that aren’t suitable for you, or you may know that some will be too difficult, so you need a variation of the exercise.
Your gym may put on prenatal aquafit classes. Talk to your instructor or at the reception to find out more. This will mean like with prenatal yoga, you have someone specifically trained for your current situation, and you’ll find other people who are also pregnant.
The downside of swimming and aqua aerobic classes is you won’t be able to go into the sauna or steam room afterward. When you’re pregnant, you need to avoid your body temperature from increasing too much, and the sauna and steam room will cause this. The Jacuzzi is also off the table for the time being. At least with a prenatal class, you’ll all be in the same boat!
Opt for Indoor Cycling
If you’re going to the gym, opt for the stationary bikes. This isn’t the time to try a spin-fit class, but you can take advantage of the bikes in your main gym.
You can use either the high back seats or the normal one. While the high back ones may be more comfortable for your hips and glutes, you may find the normal bikes are better when your bump gets larger; the high back can put you in a bad position for raising your legs to cycle! I’ve been there!
Wait; isn’t cycling something you should avoid?
You may find your midwife or doctor recommends staying away from road cycling. This isn’t because of the exercise, but the risk of falling off your bike. Your center of gravity is slightly off as your bump grows and that can lead to your balance being slightly off. There is a risk of falling while cycling, so you end up putting yourself and your baby at risk.
With a stationary bike, that risk is smaller. You will be able to jump off the bike sooner than you would on the road and won’t have to deal with forcing the bike to balance while you’re on it.
Put it on a lower setting or talk to a certified prenatal trainer about your best options. Listen to your body throughout the exercise. If there’s any pain, you’ll want to stop.
This doesn’t tend to be a popular option for those struggling with SPD. You can end up feeling the pain in your legs and glutes. If you start cycling and slowly find there is SPD pain, you’ll want to search for something to replace it with. If neither of the three options above interest you, the next three might.
Go Walking with Some Friends
While running isn’t low-impact, walking is. You can take up power walking, but just going for regular brisk walks on a morning or in the afternoon will do you some good. Get a friend and make a social event.
You can find that there are prenatal walking groups around. This isn’t always with a certified instructor, but with the group of local pregnant women and moms. As you all have babies, these groups can turn into fun buggy walking and running groups. These types of groups are great for making friends with others expecting, and you can find your children have a small friendship group from a young age.
But you don’t need to go walking with anyone if you don’t want. There’s always the option of walking on your own. If you do decide this, make sure someone knows where you’re going and the route you’re planning on taking. Go through the usual safety drills for someone going for a run alone. If something does happen, people will know when to start looking for you and where you’ll likely be.
Some women will choose to go for a walk during their lunch break. Just getting out in the fresh air and walking around the town will do you some good. It’s not quite weighted loss-benefiting exercises (not that you want to lose weight, but you get the idea), but it’s good to improve your cardio health, build strength, and improve your stamina. You’ll gain the benefits when it comes to going into labor.
Walking on your lunch break or a morning is also a good way to avoid the water retention in the legs, especially if you have a sitting job. As you get more heavily pregnant, you may want to reduce the amount of time you spend on your feet. This doesn’t mean don’t walk at all but split the time up more throughout the day.
Try Stair Walking Daily
Walking up and down the stairs is low-impact but highly beneficial exercise. You’ll work on the strength in your legs, helping to burn calories and build muscle in other parts of the body. It’s also something you can do at home, so there’s no need to go to the gym for this. If you do decide the gym, there may be stepper machines around to help.
Make sure you have a railing to hold when you do walk up and down the stairs. And take the movements slowly and carefully. Your center of gravity can cause balance issues. As your bump gets bigger, you can also find it harder to see where your feet are going, making it more likely that you’ll trip and fall.
As you get heavier, you’ll find the workout gets harder. Right now, you want to improve your leg strength, but you can also keep this up after the baby is born to help lose weight.
If you can, make sure someone is in the house when you do this type of exercise. While it’s safe with a railing, there’s nothing that beats having someone nearby should something happen!
Take Up Pilates
Finally, it may be time that you take up Pilates during pregnancy. The benefit of Pilates, unlike yoga, is you don’t spend too much time on your back. However, it’s worth looking into prenatal Pilates just to be on the safe side.
This is also an exercise you can do from the comfort of your own home. There are plenty of DVDs that will allow you to learn the moves and you don’t need a lot of specialist equipment: a mat and some resistance bands are all are you need!
Pilates offers the core strengthening workouts that a lot of other exercises miss out. You’ll need this part of your body strengthened during and after pregnancy. This part of your body takes the biggest battering when you’re growing a tiny human, with the muscles and tissues stretching. With a good and safe core workout, you’ll help to minimize the overstretch and improve the flexibility and strength when you need it. You’ll experience less back pain and find labor easier.
Look out for DVDs that are for pregnant women. There can be a lot of back stretching involved, which can cause complications if done incorrectly. You will also likely find your range of motion isn’t as good as it usually is. Adapting the exercises is much easier when you have a DVD that goes through the best alternatives instead.
Which Low Impact Workouts Will You Try?
Pregnancy doesn’t mean you have to stop working out. There are many benefits to doing exercise. If you’ve never exercised before, do talk to your doctor or midwife first. They can offer tips on how to avoid injuries or to put your baby at risk. There’s no need to jump into a lot of sport and exercise right away. Build your way up to exercising three or four times a week to improve your health and pregnancy.
Exercise can be a social event and fun to do. Use the seven options above, and you’ll be on your way to a good weight and improved stamina during pregnancy.