When you're expecting, it's essential to keep moving! Exercising while with a bun in the oven helps alleviate so many common problems associated with pregnancy. From improving muscle tone, circulation, reducing leg cramps and ankle swelling, keeping a regular fitness regimen makes it easier to adapt to changes that pregnancy brings. Likewise, it also prevents back pain by strengthening muscles to support your back and bump.
While it's always advised to check with your doctor before starting any exercise program, several studies and experts state simple exercises during pregnancy is completely safe for both mommy and child. In fact, the University of Montreal found exercising not only boosts body image and mood, but it helps your baby's brain to develop faster.
So what exercises should an expectant Womanista fit into her routine? The safest and most productive to perform during your pregnancy are also the ones that carry little risk of injury, but benefit your entire body and overall health.
Exercising while pregnant can leave us feeling less energetic than usual, but a quick stroll through the neighborhood is a great way to get your cardio on. Without too much of an impact on knees and ankles, walking is one of the easier ways to reap the benefits of fitness and can fit into a daily routine well after birth. It's simple, achievable at your own speed, and increases the supply of oxygen to your baby's brain. Aim for 30 minutes, five times a week, and keep in mind that as your baby grows, your center of gravity shifts causing a bit of an imbalance. Be aware of your walking path and choose proper footwear.
Touted as one of the safest forms of exercise by fitness experts and healthcare providers, swimming provides an ample amount of cardio that benefits your lungs and heart, while exercising those large muscle groups — like your arms and legs. In addition, the bigger your bump gets, the more you actually enjoy feeling weightless in the water — it's a pretty sweet deal. And it's incredibly helpful for women experiencing lower back pain as standing in the water helps reduce inflammation on joints and supports your baby bump.
This kind of exercise is not only best for socializing with like-minded mommies-to-be, but it's perfect for strengthening your heart and lungs, while maintaining muscle tone. Between spinning and cardio kickboxing, there are a slew of aerobics classes out there to get you in shape. But you'll want to take part in low-impact exercises — ones that exclude jumping, high kicks, leaps and running. Low-impact aerobic exercises keep one foot on the ground at all times to protect your pelvic muscles, so you can control the stress on your joints and preserve coordination. The American Pregnancy Association states hopping on a stationary bike is a stellar way to get your aerobics for the day as there is a low risk of falling since the bike supports your weight. This creates less stress on your body as you strengthen muscles and improve endurance.
We absolutely love yoga but with baby on the way, it can be hard to adjust our asana. While reservations might have been held against practicing prenatal yoga in the past, new research suggests it can be safe for healthy moms-to-be. In a study from the Obstetrics & Gynecology, prenatal yoga helps maintain muscle tone and flexibility, while improving posture. Kind to muscles and joints, this form of yoga boasts a diverse range of benefits like decreased lower back pain, nausea, headaches and improved sleep. From helping you prepare for labor to encouraging focused breathing and mental clarity, it also increases your strength and endurance — perfect preparation for the marathon of childbirth.
As one of the more flawless low-impact pregnancy workouts around, Pilates helps to strengthen your tummy and those pelvic floor muscles — also known as your core. During the course of our pregnancy, muscles grow weak, which leads to back pain and poor posture. But Pilates supports muscles rather than straining them through controlled movements and actions that strengthen basic muscles, like your abs to support your spine. And as if it weren't perfect enough, Pilates is easy to modify around your growing belly or any pain you experience throughout your pregnancy.