Did you just reach a weight loss goal or achieve your ideal body, only to find out that you’re pregnant?
First off, congratulations! Secondly, there’s no need to give up on your fitness goals. While pregnancy changes the body, and every woman handles pregnancy differently, working out is a great way to support your pregnancy, and offers several benefits.
I know what you’re probably thinking, “What does he know about working out while being pregnant? He’s a 27-year-old man.” Well, you got me.
I’ve been married to my wife for close to 5 years, and among the many hobbies my wife and I share, working out is definitely one of them. We’re by no means fitness professionals, but we do enjoy going to the gym together several times a week. I lift, she lifts (a little) and runs.
That said, we’re expecting our first baby boy in about 2 months! Seeing as how my wife enjoys hitting the gym, after finding out she was pregnant, she wasn’t quite sure if she should or would be able to continue working out while pregnant.
For those in the same boat, have no fear! While I’m certainly no expert on pregnancy (and never will be), I learned some cool things from my wife and her doctor these past 7 months.
Why Work out During Pregnancy?
Let me give just a little more background on my wife. She loves cardio, whether it’s running outside or on the treadmill in the cardio cinema.
After finding out she was pregnant last July, my wife wasn’t quite sure if she’d be able to continue exercising and training. She didn’t want to lose her progress, but she was knew she needed to change the way she exercised.
So, what’s the official consensus on working out during pregnancy? Is it a good idea, is it bad? I’ll go ahead and admit I, myself, had no idea!
The belief that exercising while pregnant is a big “no” is definitely a popular one, but come to find out, it’s outdated and completely untrue!
Not only did my wife’s doctor say she could continue exercising, both her doctor as well as online medical professionals agree that working out while pregnant can actually offer several benefits.
How could lifting weights and doing cardio be beneficial? Let’s take a look at some advantages exercise offers:
- Relieves Back Pain
According to medical professionals, training strengthens and stretch your back muscles, and as a result, can ease back pain.
In addition to building up back strength and muscle, training will also strengthen your legs. This will help support proper posture and also help prepare you for childbirth.
- Improves Mood and Energy Levels
Exercise has long been hailed for its ability to improve mental health. While forcing yourself to get up and go exercise may be a bit difficult, it can be really beneficial for reducing depression and anxiety and boosting your mood.
- Prevents Excess Weight Gain
It’s true, gaining weight is an important aspect of pregnancy -you’re growing a baby! You need to be getting enough calories and nutrients to help your baby continue to grow and you, too, need enough calories to function and be healthy.
Many pregnant women may have a goal to only gain as much weight as necessary to have a healthy pregnancy and baby. Training and exercising are great ways to help keep your weight gain in check.
But remember, your goal isn’t to lose weight or not gain weight, but to avoid excessive weight gain.
While exercise is generally recommended to pregnant women, pregnancy affects all women a bit differently, so it’s important to get approval from your doctor beforehand.
Another idea you may consider to help you avoid excessive weight gain is trying out a well-balanced meal replacement shake.
Meal replacement shakes are a great way to get important nutrients like vitamins, minerals, protein, fats, and carbs with minimal calories. Not to mention, they are easy to prepare and can be very convenient.
The Best Types of Exercises
As far as specific exercises go, once again, you’ll definitely want to talk to your doctor before you throw on your sweat band and hit the gym. From personal experience, any exercises that didn’t risk bumping/hurting your stomach or falling were given the OK by my wife’s doctor.
There are several great exercises you can do from the comfort of your own home. Here are some exercises you may look into with the help of your doctor:
- Jumping Jacks
- Mountain Climbers
You can see several of these exercises performed here.
My wife was advised she could continue to run for a majority of her pregnancy. But, running tends to be a high-impact exercise and may cause cramping in some pregnant women.
If that’s the case, talk to your doctor about switching up your cardio for low-impact exercises.
Here are some low-impact exercises to consider:
- Fast Walking
- Bike Riding
Whatever exercises you choose, have fun! Working out and training shouldn’t be boring. You can switch up cardio and weightlifting to keep it fresh!
Some gyms may even have a “cardio cinema,” with stationary bikes, treadmills, and other equipment, which can certainly make cardio a little more enjoyable.
One exercise that you shouldn’t be doing is intense ab workouts. While the baby develops, the mother’s ab muscles are stretched to accommodate for growth, and sometimes the ab muscles are separated.
Doing crunches and sit-ups also aren’t the best ab exercises to do later in pregnancy because it requires you to lay flat on your back, which may lower blood pressure.
If you want to work your core, perhaps a better ab workout would be the plank exercise, where you rest on your forearms and toes, with a flat back!
Now that you’ve laced up your shoes to hit the gym or work out in your living room, how hard should you actually train?
Unless you have a medical or pregnancy complication, you should get about 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise per day, a couple times a week.
Your heart rate and training intensity are definitely things you’ll want to consider while working out.
So, how can you tell if you are working out moderately or too intensely?
My wife’s doctor told her she should never feel out of breath or absolutely exhausted after training. A good way to gage the intensity of your workout is by singing a song under your breath, or try to hold a conversation.
If you can sing a song under your breath or if you can hold a conversation, you’re good! If you can’t, you may want to slow down a bit.
Piecing It All Together
Training can help you feel more energetic, healthy, and happy throughout your pregnancy. Yes, it may be hard at first to commit to working out, especially considering all the changes the body undergoes.
If that’s the case, start off small! You can build up your strength with at home exercises, and you can work on your cardio by walking fast on the treadmill! Pace yourself, and have fun. Just know that by working out, you’ll be improving your overall sense of well-being, combatting extra weight gain, and you’ll even fight off spider veins!
So, you’re rocking your pregnancy and feeling great. What happens next? Check out these quick workouts for busy moms and tips to help your kids eat healthy, and love it!