Pregnancy Workouts for Optimum Health

pregnancy workoutsBeing pregnant was one of the most beautiful as well as the most scientific experience of my life.  The very thought of creating another human being inside of my mid-section was mind blowing to me.  Once I began to see my stomach grow and hear the heartbeats of my twins, I knew taking care of my physical and mental self through developing an effective pregnancy workout was key to giving birth to healthy, happy babies.

Embarking on the wonderful journey of pregnancy can be a bit daunting. A good place to start educating oneself of the intricacies of pregnancy is perhaps reading a book on the subject or enrolling in a nutrition and yoga course specifically tailored to maximizing the 9 or 10 months of wonder.  But everyone knows that a healthy body is the optimum goal for any pregnant woman.

Let’s Get Physical!

One very obvious way to ensure optimum health levels during pregnancy is to sustain an effective heart pumping level of physical activity from the first trimester to the last (and then some but that’s another article for another day).

Pregnancy workouts range from simple walking to the controversial cross-fit boot camps for pregnant women.  A general rule of thumb is to find the kind of exercise plan that is right for you and that generally follows from something you are used to doing.  Your body will go through many changes in the 9-10 months of pregnancy that having some kind of workout that feels good and is familiar to your body will make the experience that much more effective.

Here are some popular possibilities:

1)      Walking

This form of exercise provides an excellent cardiovascular workout that can be modified at any time throughout your pregnancy. You can walk at a slow, moderate, or intense pace and include hills if desired.  Asking a friend to join you is also a wonderful double whammy to fulfill your social needs which tend to be neglected when a new baby arrives.

But be careful and aware of how your body changes affect your stability and coordination.  Make sure you choose even surface that will unlikely cause you to stumble or fall.  Also, your feet might swell during pregnancy as is common with most women so buy bigger shoes if needed!

2)      Yoga

Prenatal yoga exercises are beneficial for the body and the mind.  The body responds well to yoga during pregnancy because it not only provides a cardiovascular workout but also a muscular workout without too much strain.  Yoga poses increase joint mobility and flexibility which also provides improvement in balance and coordination. These benefits create a stronger body to endure the many changes and obstacles that come with pregnancy.

Studies have also shown that prenatal yoga exercise enables the mind to relax through the various breathing techniques involved in maintaining yoga poses.  Breathing exercises reduce stress levels and are essential to easing the childbirth process.

Precautions against prenatal yoga involve listening to your body and discussing any apprehensions with your doctor.  Some poses that require you to lay on your back might not be the best for you because of the extra weight in your midsection which can limit blood circulation.  With any exercise during pregnancy and beyond, consulting your doctor is an utmost necessity.

3)      Swimming

One of the most ideal workouts during pregnancy is good old-fashioned swimming.  Exercising in water provides the least chance for injury because the joints enjoy a full range of motion and you don’t have to worry about losing your balance.  Being in the water is also very soothing and relaxing which has its own benefits during pregnancy as it lowers stress levels. 

For obvious reasons, diving or jumping into water should be avoided.  The impact of the water on the abdomen can be too much for the body to endure.  Lastly, hot water such as hot tubs, saunas, jacuzzis are most likely not ideal because of overheating the body.

4)      Weight Lifting

Weight lifting has been a long time favorite of mine, pregnant or not.  The benefits from lifting weights are numerous.  Because the muscles are strengthened, the body is stronger and better able to protect our constantly changing pregnant bodies.  Stronger muscles also provide much needed help to our often strained joints.  Less pressure on joints is a major contributor to a decline in injury.  Additionally, the benefits of lifting weights have been known to include a lowering instances of depression which can aid in post-partum depression known to affect many new mothers.

However, many professionals caution against lifting weight that is too heavy than necessary because of the strain it can provide to the abdomen.  Again, as with any exercise program, consult your doctor to ensure optimal health.

5)      Low Impact Aerobics Classes

Another popular workout program for pregnant women is utilizing dancing to increase cardiovascular health.  Classes such as Zumba are a great way to still be on your feet and enjoy dancing to mood lifting music.  Strenuous aerobics classes are not recommended but can be tailored to your needs.  Speaking with an exercise professional who is trained for having pregnant clients is a great way to ensure injury-free exercise.

Signs to Slow Down and Stop

Any woman who’s been pregnant knows that things can change from one day to the next in terms of health.  If you experience any of these symptoms, it could mean you’ve put too much stress on your body. Stop exercising and call your doctor if you have:

  • Vaginal bleeding or leakage of fluids
  • Difficult, labored, or uncomfortable breathing
  • Heart palpitations or pain in your chest
  • Headache, nausea, or vomiting (for headaches during pregnancy, this is a must read: Pregnancy Headaches: Causes and Natural Remedies)
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Sudden change in temperature, clammy hands, or overheating
  • Swelling or pain in your ankles and calves
  • Decreased fetal movement
  • Blurred vision
  • Pain in your abdomen

For more insightful information to make your pregnancy the healthiest possible, Udemy offers these wonderfully reviewed courses: