Worried about potential risks? Don’t be. There just aren’t any if you’ve been green-lighted by your practitioner, you choose the right pregnancy workouts, and you exercise smart. So lace up those sneakers, grab your water bottle (it’s important to stay hydrated when you’re working out for two!), and get moving, Mama!
Here are some safe-during-pregnancy exercises you can try (assuming your practitioner has given the okay):
Swimming: It’s fun, safe, low-impact, and you’ll feel lighter and more limber when you’re in the water! Like any cardiovascular exercise, swimming helps you breathe easier and increases your body’s ability to use oxygen, which is great for both you and your baby-to-be. Doing laps around the pool helps improve blood circulation and muscle tone (while being gentle on your loosening joints) and also increases your endurance (something you’ll be extremely thankful for come delivery day). If you’re still feeling the queasies, a dip in the pool might counteract that upset tummy by giving you the refreshing energy kick you need. Got puffy ankles? Water workouts can help ease the swell, plus relieve sciatic pain.
Brisk Walking: It’s time to embrace the waddle! There’s no easier exercise to fit into your busy schedule than walking…and it’s a workout you can continue to fit in right up until delivery date (and even on D-day if you’re anxious to help the contractions along). What’s more, you don’t need any special equipment or a gym membership to participate — just some good sneakers. Want to go a little faster? Experienced runners can stay on track during pregnancy, but stick to level terrain (or a treadmill) and never overdo it (loose ligaments and joints during pregnancy can make jogging harder on your knees — and make you more prone to injury).
Pilates: Pilates focuses mainly on strengthening your core and lengthening your muscles. A pregnancy-appropriate Pilates routine will help you gain tone, flexibility, and strength — skills that’ll come in handy during labor. All that core strengthening will also help ease backaches and improve your posture, something you’ll be grateful for as your belly gets bigger.
Yoga: Looking for a way to find your inner Zen while also staying in shape? Then look no further than yoga — the perfect workout for the mama-to-be. Yoga encourages relaxation, focus, and deep breathing — all great preparation for the marathon of birth (and the parenting that follows!). All that focused breathing increases your blood oxygenation, bringing more oxygen to your baby and making your pregnancy (and delivery) easier. Look for a class specifically tailored for pregnant women or ask your instructor to modify the poses so that they’re safe for you. Do be sure to avoid Bikram yoga — the kind done in a hot room. You need to pass on any exercises that heat you up too much.
Aerobics: Low-impact aerobics and dance workouts are great if you’re a newbie exerciser — or an experienced athlete, who should tone down the intensity level when working out for two. And of course, never exert yourself to the point of exhaustion — even if you’re choosing a low-impact exercise. A great choice is water aerobics, which is uniquely suited to the pregnant set (remember, in the water you weigh just a tenth of what you do on land!).