You Can Work Out During Pregnancy!
Pregnancy can be filled with a lot of questions, especially if you’re a first time mom – and there are a lot of “do’s” and “don’ts” to keep in mind.We all know that regular exercise is beneficial for our health. Did you know there are many benefits of working out while pregnant–not just for you during pregnancy and in your postpartum recovery, but for your baby, too?
As a mother of two, certified personal trainer, and founder + face of the digital fitness app Emily Skye FIT, one thing I always say is the following.
You don’t need to wrap yourself in bubble wrap for nine months when you’re pregnant.
With the right guidance and approval from your doctor, it is safe to exercise during pregnancy.
That’s why I created a pregnancy-focused program in my FIT app, FIT Pregnancy, to keep you moving through each trimester and help you navigate pregnancy workout safety. So before you kick off your sneakers and put your feet up, take a look at all the ways that having a pregnancy workout plan could do a lot of good for mama and baby, all approved by Phoebe Armfield, women’s health physiotherapist and a member of the FIT crew.
10 Benefits of Staying Active and Working Out During Pregnancy
- Exercise doesn’t just reduce backaches and pelvic pain by maintaining muscle strength, it can also reduce bloating, constipation and swelling by keeping your digestive system and fluids flowing.
- There always seems to be a lot to stress about when you’re expecting. So get moving to release those endorphins and boost your mood and energy levels.
- Exercising consistently will help you to fall asleep more easily, get better quality sleep and wake up feeling more rested.
- It’s normal to gain weight during pregnancy. However, regular exercise can prevent excessive weight gain. Excessive gestational weight gain can increase your risk of developing diabetes and high blood pressure during pregnancy. It can also result in postpartum weight retention – meaning it’s much harder to lose weight after your baby is born.
- Want to be prepared for labor? Exercise! You’ll maintain muscle tone, strength and, perhaps most importantly, endurance! Your body is about to do something pretty incredible, so having confidence in what it is capable of is a great bonus, too.
- On average, women who are active during pregnancy spend less time in labor and experience fewer complications (requiring less medical intervention) during delivery.
- Staying fit and strong will prepare your body for lifting, holding, carrying and pushing your (growing) baby once they make it out into the world.
- Exercise reduces your risk of gestational hypertension (high blood pressure during pregnancy) and pre-eclampsia, which can be dangerous for mother and baby.
- By maintaining muscle strength in your trunk and lower body, you can prevent – or better manage – urinary incontinence. Don’t forget your Kegels, ladies!
- A study reported in the New York Times showed that newborns whose mothers exercised during pregnancy develop more “athletic hearts” and may become physically coordinated sooner than other babies. And advanced motor skills and better-conditioned hearts will only encourage your child to be more active as they grow.
Always consult your healthcare professional before beginning any new exercise program, as there are some situations where exercise may not be advised. This information should be used as a guide only and should not replace the advice of your medical practitioner.
Working out During Pregnancy: My Go-To Sequence!
Trimester 2 Low Intensity – First Workout
This workout is a low-intensity session taken from Trimester 2 of my FIT Pregnancy program. It is designed to help keep you moving safely in the middle stages of pregnancy, and maintain strength in your back and core.
An important reminder: you should not start this FIT Pregnancy workout if you have not participated in exercise regularly prior to becoming pregnant – this program is not designed for beginners.
Always consult your healthcare professional before beginning any new exercise program or regime or working out during pregnancy, as there are some situations where exercise may not be advised. This information should be used as a guide only and should not replace the advice of your medical practitioner.
Equipment required: Light dumbbells, cushion
- March on the spot + active arms – 30 sec
- Half squat + lean – 30 sec
- Shoulder press + tricep overhead extension – 30 sec
- Sumo plie stretch – 30 sec
- Side squat + arms up – 30 sec
- Arm circles – 30 sec forward, 30 back
Complete 4 rounds total. Rest 20 seconds between exercises, and 60 seconds after each round.
- Bodyweight squat – 30 secs
- Single-arm forward-leaning dumbbell row – 30 sec each side
- Seated dumbbell Arnold press – 30 secs
- Alternating donkey kicks – 30 secs
- March on the spot + active arms – 60 sec
- Heels to bum – 60 sec
- Standing quad stretch – 30 sec each side
- Standing chest stretch – 30 sec
- Hip flexor stretch – 30 sec each side
- Child’s pose – 30 sec
Pregnancy Workout Exercise Descriptions
March on the Spot + Active Arms
Start with your feet hip width apart and gently march on the spot. Use your arms, moving them backwards and forwards as you march. Keep your chest lifted and shoulders back.
Half Squat + Lean
Stand tall with your feet hip width apart. Carefully sit down into a half squat with your weight through your heels. Staying in your small squat, reach your right arm gently up over your head towards the left. Bring your arm down and gently reach your left arm up over your head towards the right. Continue alternating your arms.
Shoulder Press + Tricep Overhead Extension
Stand with your feet under your hips, roll your shoulders back and down and bring your hands up in front of your shoulders. Press your hands above your head and then hinge at your elbows to drop your hands back behind your head. Straighten your arms back and bring your hands back down to your shoulders, keep repeating this movement.
Sumo Plie Stretch
Take your feet just wider than shoulder width but not uncomfortably wide. Roll your shoulders back and down and carefully sit down into a sumo squat. As you squat down, rest your forearms on the inside of your thighs and gently push with your elbows to open up the stretch. Move your arms away from your legs as you push up out of the squat.
Side Squat + Arms Up
Set up in a standing position with your feet under your hips, soft knees and your shoulders rolled back and down. Step one foot out to the side and carefully sit back and down into a squat. As you squat, raise both arms up above your head to touch your hands together. Push up from your squat and return to the starting position, resting the arms back by your side. Complete another squat reaching your arms up, this time stepping to the other side.
Stand with your feet hip width apart and bring your arms out to either side of your body. With your shoulders back and down and your chest lifted, make small circular motions with both arms. Don’t let your arms drop, try to keep them inline with your shoulders.
Stand with your feet hip width apart and carefully sit your hips back and down as if you’re sitting into a chair. Keep your knees in line with your toes and sit your weight through your heels. Maintain a neutral spine throughout and only squat as deep as you’re comfortable.
Single-arm Forward-Leaning Dumbbell Row
With a dumbbell in one hand, place your other hand on the back of the chair for support and take a split stance with the opposite foot to the hand holding the dumbbell forward. Hinge forward at the hips to 45 degrees with your active arm in a straight line from your shoulder down to your wrist and the palm of your active hand facing your opposite leg. Slowly bend through your active arm’s elbow to row the dumbbell up to the outside of bump and slowly lower back down. Keep your shoulders rolled back and down to prevent too much trapezoid activation and don’t forget to breathe.
Seated Dumbbell Arnold Press
Sit in a chair with your feet firmly on the ground under your knees and hip width apart. Roll your shoulders back and down and bring your dumbbells up to shoulder height with your palms facing you. As you slowly push the dumbbells up towards the sky, take your elbows wide and rotate your hands so your palms face forward and extend your arms above your head. Reverse the movement to bring the dumbbells back to where you started.
Alternating Donkey Kicks
On all fours with your knees under your hips and your wrists inline with your shoulders, keep your spine neutral and the back of your head in line with your spine. Transfer your lower-body weight into your left leg and keeping a 90 degree bend at the knee, extend through your right hip to raise your right leg behind and drive your heel towards the sky. Squeeze through your glute to control the movement and slowly lower your leg back down. Alternate legs and repeat the movement on the other side.
Heels to Bum
Start with your feet hip width apart and your shoulders back and down. Carefully lift one leg back behind the body to kick your bum and replace it back to the ground. Continue the movement, alternating on the opposite side each time.
Standing Quad Stretch
Stand next to a chair to hold for balance as you transfer your weight into the leg closest to the chair and bring your other leg up behind the body. Hold the foot or ankle with the hand on the same side and think about tucking your tailbone under to prevent any arching of the lower back. You should feel a stretch through the quad of the leg you’re holding. Repeat on the other side after 30 seconds.
Standing Chest Stretch
Stand with your feet under your hips, soft knees and a neutral spine. Take your hands behind your both and interlace your fingers so your palms are facing your body. Roll your shoulders back and down and feel a stretch across your chest.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Take a split stance on the floor with your left knee on the floor directly under your hip and your right foot flat on the ground in front, directly under your right knee. Make sure you have a 90 degree angle at each knee. Gently tuck your tailbone under to lengthen the left hip flexor. Repeat on the other side after 30 seconds.
With a cushion on the floor in front of you, kneel on the floor and sit back onto your heels with your knees pointing outwards. Hinge forward at your hips to bring your body down towards the cushion. Rest your forearms on top of each other and rest your head on top of your hands. Your knees should be wider than your elbows and your hips stay seated back over your heels
Check out the Emily Skye FIT app and emilyskyefit.com for more information and to start your 7-day free trial of the pregnancy/post-pregnancy programs.
Emily Skye is a mother of two, strength training expert and the face of FIT, the digital fitness app that helps women worldwide build strength and confidence, stay active through pregnancy and rebuild post-pregnancy. Emily holds a Certificate IV in Fitness and Master Trainer qualification from the Australian Institute of Fitness.