How to stay fit while pregnant…yes you can!

I just hit week 23 of this pregnancy, and while I still can’t believe how soon our little boy will be joining our family, I can definitely feel it…and see it. The growing belly, the frequent kicks and jabs, and increasing back pain. Yep, this baby is growing and time is marching right along.

I’m lucky to have alot of friends who are in the same phase of life as me (which is always good for anxious mamas-to-be like me!). So there’s lots of people to share stories, worries, complaints…and tips with. And, as a trainer who has worked with pre-and post-par tum clients, it’s my turn to share some with you.

My number one tip for pregnancy is to keep moving. Of course, not if you have any medical conditions that indicate that you shouldn’t, and not until your doctor gives you the ok. But, for most pregnancies, doctors recommend getting 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week. Basically, it’s what you were aiming for pre-pregnancy, and what you should aim for afterwards too.

I’ve managed to follow my own advice so far, and I’m so glad I have. Exercise during pregnancy helps to decrease joint pain, increase energy, improve mood and often leads to a quicker recovery after birth. After taking my own advice these last 23 weeks, I can absolutely confirm these benefits. The days I work out are my best days, physically and emotionally. Here’s a list of my favorite pregnancy workouts:

  1. Walking, walking, walking. My Fitbit is my new best friend…seriously. I aim for 10-15,000 steps per day, and I definitely feel better and sleep better on the days that I get that amount. This was my exercise of choice in the first trimester, when nausea and fatigue were almost constant…walking helped to distract me and give me a boost of energy…and getting some fresh air always made me happy, mood swings or not. fitbit
  2. Running. Now, I’ve never been a great runner, but I’ve been pretty consistent with it over the years. And somehow, during pregnancy, I’ve grown to love it more. I feel like my old self when I’m outside (or even on the treadmill), running and watching the distance accumulate. So far, it’s been comfortable for me and the best mood booster I’ve found so far. Also, I definitely sleep better on the days I run. Note: You do want to be careful when running during pregnancy – don’t aim to beat any prior records or increase your speed. In fact, plan on going slower, stopping if your heart rate gets to high and being careful about not overheating.                babymoon running                                A pic from our recent “babymoon”, where we did a beautiful family run in the Outerbanks of NC. 
  3. Hiking. This is a favorite activity for my husband and I, and something I like to do with friends and clients too. Being in nature is a natural way to get energy and improve your mood…works every time! I’m just paying a little more attention to my surroundings these days, and not trying any hikes that are too crazy. If you’re going to hike when pregnant (with the ok from your doctor), make sure you have good shoes and go slow so you don’t trip or lose your balance. 
  4. Weight lifting. You don’t want those arms and legs to get weak over these next 9 months. In fact, you’re going to need the strength to lift that infant car seat a over and over. After checking with your doctor, aim for 2-3 days of moderate resistance training per week. Lower weight and higher reps are often best…and aim to alternate between the legs and the arms to get a total body workout without straining any muscle or raising your blood pressure. 
  5. Stationary biking. I’m not gonna lie, I do miss biking outside. But that’s nothing a good music playlist and 30 minutes on the indoor bike can’t fix. I love seeing the miles rack up, I love feeling like I can go pretty fast without hurting my knees or back, and I love the improved cardiovascular endurance I feel after a few good rides. (Again, keep your heart rate at a reasonable level when biking…working large muscle groups, like the legs, can raise your heart rate quite a bit, so be mindful of that).
  6. Prenatal yoga. And lastly, some relaxation. I occasionally find myself with random worries that probably plague most moms-to-be. Is the baby ok? Am I doing everything right? What if I don’t have the nursery done on time? Valid concerns, mostly, with some random and useless ones thrown in. But when these thoughts start circling, that’s when I roll out my yoga mat and tune everything else out. I aim to do prenatal yoga 1-2x per week. In addition to helping with stress, it has helped me manage back and hip pain, strengthen muscles, reduce headaches and learn to focus and breathe. I’m hoping these benefits help on delivery day, but if not, the 9 months of benefits leading up to it are certainly reason enough to seek out a yoga class.

So there you have it: my go-to’s for pregnancy workouts. Other ones that clients and friends have found helpful include swimming, dance and aerobics. No matter what it is you choose to do, try to stay as active as possible during this time in your life. During these 9 months of serious changes (to both our bodies and our lives), exercise is one constant that can and will make you feel better…and pass the time while you wait for that beautiful baby to join your world.

A happy and fit pregnancy to you!

~Jess

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