Pregnancy is such a special time in a woman’s life. As your body changes to nurture the new little life growing inside you, staying active with the right exercises can make a huge difference in how you feel each day. Personally, I’ve found that keeping up a regular workout routine during pregnancy helps me feel energized, strong, and ready to tackle anything!
Of course, before starting any new exercise program it’s super important to check with your doctor to explore the expertise of Dr. Stephen Cole, Specialist Obstetrician to make sure everything looks good. But in most cases staying physically active is great for both mama and baby. Here are 4 of my top exercises that have been an absolute lifesaver for me during pregnancy. These are easy to do at home with little to no equipment.
This is hands down one of the best, safest exercises for pregnancy in my book. It tones your legs, boosts energy levels, and improves your overall fitness without requiring any fancy equipment. Just lacing up a pair of comfortable shoes and getting in a 30-60 minute walk at least 3-4 times per week has done wonders for my endurance and helping me sleep better at night too.
During the first trimester when I was dealing with nausea and exhaustion, I’ll admit even a leisurely stroll felt like climbing Mount Everest some days. But I tried to get out and walk as much as possible, even if it was just up and down the block once or twice when I felt up to it. The fresh air and movement helped alleviate some of those early pregnancy blues. Thankfully, the second trimester brought much more energy and walking felt invigorating! I love putting on some upbeat music and power walking through my neighborhood.
Yoga has been another pregnancy game-changer for me. The gentle stretches, breathing exercises, and meditation involved with a regular prenatal yoga practice help soothe aches and pains, reduce stress, and improve balance and strength.
I try to attend a one hour prenatal yoga class 2 or 3 days a week, but there are also plenty of free videos online if getting to an in-person class isn’t convenient with your schedule. I always walk away from prenatal yoga feeling relaxed and strong – so worth it!
One of the best low-impact options, swimming gets your whole body moving for an awesome cardio workout. The feeling of weightlessness in the water takes all that strain off your back, hips, and joints. I try to swim a few laps two or three times a week, which has really helped strengthen my upper body and abdominal muscles too. Win win!
For me, swimming is the perfect complement to walking and yoga. I can’t do high intensity bootcamp or running like I used to, so swimming gives me that heart-pumping cardiovascular exercise without any risk of injury. The cool water is also just so refreshing and relaxing.
Last but certainly not least, Pilates rounds out my pregnancy fitness routine nicely. The focus on balance, pelvic floor strengthening, and body alignment helps with posture and preparing the specific muscles you’ll need for labor and delivery. All of those are super beneficial! I try to take 2-3 Pilates classes each week focusing on pregnancy-safe moves.
My favorite Pilates exercises are cat stretches, side leg lifts, pelvic tilts, and modified planks without overarching the back. Those all strengthen the core and back muscles which help take pressure off the spine and stabilize the body during pregnancy. The mental focus required in Pilates is also great for stress relief and relaxation. After an intense session, I feel the satisfaction of having worked hard but in a calm, mindful way.