Pregnancy Information Pregnancy Exercise Types

There are many reasons to maintain an active lifestyle while pregnant. The most popular reason for most women is that being in the habit of exercising helps them lose weight after giving birth. However, performing basic exercises while pregnant can alleviate many common problems women experience during pregnancy, including:

  • depression
  • fatigue
  • insomnia
  • stress and anxiety
  • swollen calves and ankles.

The key to any pregnancy exercise regiment is keeping things light and safe. You don’t want to do anything that will put your or your baby in danger. That being said, there many exercises that are safe for women to do during pregnancy.

Basic Exercises: Ankle Stretches

One popular pregnancy exercise is stretching. In particular, ankle stretches can feel especially good to pregnant women. To do ankle stretches, sit in a sturdy chair with your legs stretched out in front of your body. Keep your toes relaxed and rotate your feet in circles.

A good ankle stretch can be achieved by rotating four times on each foot and then repeating. Afterward, try gently pointing and flexing your toes.

Stretches are a great way to get you in the mood to do more light exercises. Ankle stretches should help you feel limber enough to take light walks during the later stages of your pregnancy.

Kegel Exercises for Pregnant Women

Kegel exercises are an important exercise for pregnant women, as they strengthen the muscles used during delivery. To do Kegel exercises, flex your pelvic muscles as if you were trying to stop urinating.

You can do Kegel exercises every day. Start slowly, contracting your pelvic muscles and holding the contraction to the count of five. See if you can repeat 10 of these exercises. In time, you should be able to work your way up to as many as five sets of 10 reps.

Properly executed Kegel exercises can be done anywhere. Since you won’t be moving your legs or buttocks, it should be impossible for anyone to know you’re doing them.

Walking During Pregnancy

Walking can be relaxing and healthy during pregnancy. Just remember to walk at your own pace. A slow, steady walk can be effective, but there are several precautions to keep in mind:

  • Daylight walks on a smooth sidewalk are best. Your chances of tripping increase at dusk when it is harder to see.
  • Drink plenty of water: Dehydration can cause contractions.
  • Pay attention to your posture, but don’t forget to look where you’re going. You don’t want to stumble or trip.
  • Walking for 30 minutes is ideal. Don’t try to walk longer than a half an hour at a time.

Walking may not seem like a great exercise, but it actually targets the hips, thighs and calves. Walking while pregnant can help you stay relaxed and can help prevent excess weight gain.

Light Weight Training for Pregnant Women

Free weights have the potential to cause injury if dropped, so if you want to try some light weight training, be sure to use resistance bands. In addition, be sure to consult with your doctor before implementing such a regimen. Every woman’s pregnancy is unique, and there may be a reason why you should avoid light weight training.

For most women, light weight training during the first trimester is usually acceptable. Typically, four sets with 10 reps per set are effective. There are resistance band exercises that work the arms, upper back and legs. Ask your doctor to provide you with exercises that are safe for you.

Light weight training can help you maintain your shape, but these exercises will also help you maintain your stamina during labor.

Swimming while Pregnant

Many women find swimming to be a pleasing pregnancy exercise. The key to swimming while pregnant is to go slow and to use light strokes.

Rather than concentrating on swimming laps, try focusing on moving your major muscle groups gently and smoothly. You should also feel free to take frequent breaks while swimming during your pregnancy. Be sure to stop if you feel out of breath.

Swimming is usually safe up until the second part of your second trimester. Sessions should last no longer than 30 minutes.

Though swimming is safe, it is important to note that doctors warn women against sitting in hot tubs, as they can raise the body temperature to a dangerous level.

Pregnancy Exercises: A Few Notes of Caution

While there are many exercises women can enjoy while pregnant, there are a few that are not recommended during pregnancy. These include:

  • leg lifts
  • lunges
  • sit-ups
  • running and jogging.

During pregnancy, it is best to avoid exercises that must be performed on your back. There is a chance that these exercises could cause the baby to press on a vein that circulates blood to the mother’s heart. If the flow through this vein becomes restricted, food and oxygen for the baby could be restricted or entirely cut off.

Resources

Deitz, M. (2007, May 20). “Womb to Move.” Sunday Mail Magazine Edition, p. 6.

Stephenson, H. (2006, April 1). “Fit for life- before and after the baby.” Birmingham Post, p. 49.

Sutter Health Network (n.d.). Prenatal Exercise- Basic Exercises. Retrieved October 6, 2007, from the Babies.Sutterhealth.org Web site: http://www.babies.sutterhealth.org/during/preg_basicexercises.html.