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Exercise in Pregnancy

Exercise in pregnancy

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Let’s be realistic here: pregnancy can make you feel overwhelmed, tired, and uncomfortable. The last thing you want to do is pull out your yoga mat or put on your walking shoes. BUT exercise can give you energy and boost your mood! Along with many other healthy benefits for you and your baby. 

Four Important Benefits to Exercise during Pregnancy

Moderate physical activity during pregnancy helps maintain strength and endurance, protects the back, reduces common discomforts, and can help cope with labor. These four important benefits help with the demands that pregnancy and childbirth bring.

  • Physical: maintaining fitness during pregnancy helps with leg cramps, fatigue, insomnia, heartburn, constipation, and more. 
  • Mental and Emotional: regular exercise decreases mental stress and fatigue. Aerobic activities also release endorphins. They help stabilize hormones that cause mood swings and reduce the risk of depression. 
  • Social: prenatal exercise classes are a huge benefit; they are a way to connect with others going through the pregnancy journey like you! Support is also a must during this journey, and classes are a great way to gain it. 
  • Spiritual: You might wonder if exercise helps with my spiritual beliefs. No matter your beliefs, yes, it can. Mediation, somatic exercises, relaxation, and praying can quiet your mind. It’s also a great time to connect with baby, talk to baby, and sing to baby. Enjoy the calmness together. Quiet time doesn’t always have to be strictly on your yoga mat feeling static; make it yours, and let your mind and body connect and move the way you want it. Quiet time can also be taking a bath, walking, or sitting outside.
Exercise in pregnancy-yoga

General Safety Guidelines for Exercise in Pregnancy

Here are some tips on how to make your exercise effective and work for you.

  • First, and always first—I can’t say this enough, and FYI, you will hear me repeat it later—chat with your care provider first about exercise.
  • The second most important thing to remember is that pregnancy is NOT a time to consider running a marathon if you haven’t included running in your daily pre-pregnancy routine. Pregnancy is also not a time to start a new sport. Stick with simple routines that won’t shock your body or put you in an unhealthy position.

Okay, now that those two vital tips are out of the way, let’s get to the others. 

  • Try to exercise three to seven days a week, even if it is just a 10-minute walk or 15 minutes of yoga or meditation.
  • Keep intensity low to moderate. Don’t worry; your strength will build if you keep it up. This isn’t a race, and you don’t need to train for a bodybuilding competition at this time. Remember, this is a healthy benefit time for you and your baby. 
  • Eat enough to meet your caloric needs and for exercise (Learn more about pregnancy nutrition here).
  • Drink water! Water, water, and more water!! Drink water before, during, and after. Not only does it keep you hydrated and prevent cramping, but it also helps with swelling.
  • Use the “talk test.” If you can’t talk during your exercise, it is too vigorous. Remember what I just said? “This is a healthy benefit time for you and your baby.”
  • Stop exercising if you feel pain or discomfort, have severe breathlessness, dizziness, vaginal bleeding, or have strong uterine contractions. Make sure to consult your provider if these occur. 

When NOT to exercise during pregnancy

Hopefully, this is an obvious list; you already know you shouldn’t exercise under these conditions. Go with your instinct and chat with your provider. But I may have also snuck a few in that you didn’t realize was a condition that causes you not to exercise. 

  • Baby’s movements have decreased
  • Baby has IUGR-intrauterine growth restriction
  • preterm labor
  • preeclampsia
  • vaginal bleeding
  • persistent Braxton-Hicks
  • premature rupture of membranes (water breaking)
  • placenta previa

I’m going to say it again! Chat with your provider about exercising if you are having multiples, are on bed rest, and have health conditions such as hypertension, heart problems, diabetes, joint disease, and anything that might cause issues for you or your baby. 

Exercise in pregnancy-lifting weights

Aerobic vs. Anaerobic Exercises

Aerobic exercises are physical activities that increase your heart rate for a while. This is your cardio workout. 

Anaerobic exercises help strengthen specific muscles and improve balance and flexibility. This is your yoga or weightlifting.

Both are incredibly beneficial. 

Let’s chat briefly about the exercises you can incorporate into your routine. Mix it up; try getting both aerobic and anaerobic exercises weekly. 

  • Aerobic:  low-impact is essential when you are doing your aerobic routine. These activities include dance, walking, cycling, or swimming. Start with a 5-minute warmup and try to exercise at least 30 minutes to keep your heart rate up for that whole time. Then, end with a good cool down, including stretching. Low-impact activities are essential when performing your aerobic routine. These activities include dance, walking, cycling, or swimming. Start with a 5-minute warmup and try to exercise for at least 30 minutes to keep your heart rate up. Then, end with a good cool down and stretching.
  • Anaerobic: These exercises may not increase heart rate but have other great benefits. Anaerobic activities help with strength, balance, flexibility, breathing, and mental focus. Yoga, pilates, tai chi, and weightlifting fall into this category. If you lift weights before pregnancy, it is typically safe during pregnancy, but every pregnancy is different, so chat with your provider! I hope that reminder is stuck in your head now.

Finding your motivation

We all lack the motivation to exercise sometimes, even if we are not pregnant. Reminding ourselves of the benefits can give us that push to put on our walking shoes or pull out our yoga mats.

Find the time during the day that works best for you. For example, if you have the most energy in the morning, consider your morning time as exercise time. If you have heartburn after lunch, don’t use that time to exercise.   Plan, look how your day will flow, and pencil that exercise time in. (Want to learn more about daily planning and time management? Click here.)

Try to keep a good routine. If you start to feel less motivated near the time you need to exercise, read some motivational quotes or listen to some music to pump you up. You can warm up by cleaning around the house. Be creative with exercises and do what works best for you. Find your routine you like, and it will help keep you motivated to stick with it!


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I am Leah. Welcome to The Loving Cedar LLC. Here is where you will find parenting tips and tricks to help you simplify life.


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