Pregnancy Exercise Articles

Strength Training During Pregnancy - Why Moms-To-Be MUST Be Strong!
Why You Need to Stretch During Pregnancy and How to Do It Safely
Safe Pregnancy Exercise – How to Warm Up and Cool Down
An Exercise You MUST Do For Easier Labor and a Faster Recovery
When NOT to Exercise

Strength Training During Pregnancy - Why Moms-To-Be MUST Be Strong!

Most people start an exercise program to lose weight. Of course, this isn’t the objective during pregnancy exercise but there are lots of other reasons to get started on or continue on a regular exercise routine when you’re pregnant.

When you think of exercise, cardiovascular exercise is what usually comes to mind. Walking, jogging, swimming and many other activities that get your heart rate up are all part of this category. And, it’s an important piece to the puzzle.

But - The other half of the formula for a well rounded pre-natal exercise routine is strength training. This is the one people often forget about. The running (i.e. cardio) craze of the 1970’s is still in the forefront of people’s mind when they think about good exercise, burning calories and a healthy, lean body.

The truth is, while cardio is great for your heart, it is strength training that will prepare you for the physical demands of being a mom. In addition, it is strength training that will play a bigger role in getting your pre-pregnancy body back, or making it even better than before!

All of the lifting, bending and carrying you have to look forward to in the upcoming months will be much easier with a functionally strong body. In the mean time, gaining or maintaining strength during pregnancy is the key to reducing aches and pains as your body continues to change.

Pregnancy strength training will help:

• Reduce back pain
• Increase your energy levels
• Make labor and delivery easier
• Keep you strong and injury free
• Combat postural changes during pregnancy
• Make post-partum weight loss MUCH easier and faster
• Flatten your tummy after delivery

Studies now show that strength training during pregnancy is not only safe and beneficial, but a must for an overall healthy strong body. If you were a regular exerciser before your pregnancy, it is usually safe to continue your routine, although some modifications may be necessary.

If you didn’t have a consistent program in place, the general rule of thumb is to wait until your 2nd trimester (when you’ll be feeling much better) to ease yourself into a routine. Either way, checks in with your doctor first to be sure you don’t have any complications that could be affected by a pregnancy exercise routine.


Why You Need to Stretch During Pregnancy and How to Do It Safely


When you think of a typical pregnancy exercise program, stretching and warming up are easily forgotten. But they are a MUST for any safe and effective workout.

Aside from just feeling good, stretching helps to keep your pregnant body healthy in a number of ways:

1. Prevents injuries by pulling your body gently back into balance.

2. Increases circulation - more blood flow to the muscles means a healthier muscle.

3. Gives you more energy! Along with greater blood flow comes more oxygen which keeps us from feeling sleepy during the day.

4. Eases the aches and pains of pregnancy by loosening the tight muscles that cause low back pain, headaches and other common complaints.

5. Enhances your workout by increasing your range of motion.

6. Improves your posture which helps you look and feel better as your body continues to change.

Keep in mind that being gumby is not the goal - being too flexible can be just as dangerous as not being flexible enough. So, it's important to stretch only those muscles that are tight and to combine your stretching with a good pregnancy strength training program.

Top Ten Tips for Stretching Success

Stretching is essential to any pregnancy exercise program. But, most people don't realize HOW to stretch.

Just going through the motions can be more dangerous than not doing it at all. Follow these ten tips to round out your workout.

1. Warm up with 5-8 minutes of cardiovascular exercise - that is, an activity like jogging, biking or walking that will get your heart rate up and your blood pumping. Then begin your stretching routine.

2. Stretch only those muscles that are tight.

3. Don't stretch muscles that are already loose - if you don't "feel the stretch", you may not need to do it.

4. Avoid over-stretching. During pregnancy your joints are especially loose and prone to injury.

5. Stretching should NOT hurt. Stretching a tight muscle should feel good, back off if there is any pain.

6. Hold stretches for 20-30 seconds each.

7. Never bounce while you stretch.

8. Stay relaxed and breathe deeply to help lengthen your muscles.

9. Do not lock out your joints, keep elbows and knees slightly bent to reduce stress on them.

10. Stretch after your exercise session too, to help your body cool down and prevent injury.

There you have it, the basics of stretching! Follow these simple guidelines and reap the benefits of stretching during pregnancy.


Safe Pregnancy Exercise – How to Warm Up and Cool Down

Safe pregnancy exercise of any kind - cardiovascular or strength training - require extra circulation of blood throughout your body.

As you move, your muscles require more oxygen and nutrients to keep them going. Your blood carries these essentials throughout the entire body. As your muscles begin to work harder, your heart needs to pump faster to keep up.

If you jump right into a workout with out warming up, your heart is not pumping fast enough to the oxygen and nutrients around in an efficient manner. This is especially important for expectant mothers because you need blood not only for your hard working muscles, but for your baby as well.

A good warm up ensures that your body is prepared well enough for both in advance, keeping you and your baby safe during your exercise session.

So, before you do anything - even before you stretch - get a light sweat going with 5-10 minutes of light to moderate activity. Walking, jogging, rowing and biking are just a few examples of activities that will start you off on the right foot.

At the other end of the workout, cooling down is just as important as warming up.

Your body required extra circulation in order to keep up with the demands of your workout, so you'll want to give yourself some time to return to normal before going back to your daily routine.

Using the same light activities as your warm up, take 10 minutes after your workout to let your heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature drop before sitting in your car to head home, hopping in the shower, etc.

Complete your safe pregnancy exercise session with these simple tips - your body and your baby will thank you!

An Exercise You MUST Do For Easier Labor and a Faster Recovery

If you are pregnant, or planning on getting pregnant you have probably already accepted the inevitable expanding waistline. While an exercise program over the next 9 (or 10) months isn't going to be aimed at getting a 6-pack, those core (a.k.a abdominal) muscles will still need some attention.

We usually think of our core muscles as the ones we use while doing a "crunch" but the truth is, there are many more muscles than that in your mid-section, and crunching in probably the least important exercise in the bunch.

You see, strengthening these core muscles will not only allow you to get back to your pre-pregnant shape (or better) faster, but since these are the muscles you "push" with, strengthening them will will make labor and delivery much easier.

The easiest, and most important exercise is the kegel. Most of you have heard of this before - strengthening the muscles of your pelvic floor. Kegels utilize the same muscles used in stopping he flow of urine when you go to the bathroom.

So, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Contract these muscles and hold them tight for 5-10 seconds. Repeat this 5-10 times.

When you become more comfortable performing this little movement, you can try it while you are sitting or standing. These positions work well because it is beneficial to perform kegels several times throughout the day.

Once you master this, you'll be ready for the other core strengthening exercises in our Fit and Healthy Pregnancy Guide. In addition to core exercises specific to each trimester, you'll find easy to follow exercise routines you can do in the comfort of your own home with little equipment.


When NOT to Exercise

Exercise is a great addition to any healthy pregnancy but the health of your baby is the most important thing of all. So knowing when to put down the weights or hop off the treadmill and give yourself a rest is just as important.

No matter how fit you were before your pregnancy, you should not participate in any exercise with any of the following conditions:

Pregnancy Induced hypertension

Pre-term rupture of placenta membranes

Pre-term labor now, or in previous pregnancies

I ncompetent cervix

Persistent bleeding in 2nd or 3rd trimester

Intrauterine growth retardation

If you experience any of the following signs or symptoms while you are exercising, you should stop and seek medical attention right away:

Pain of any kind


Amniotic fluid leak


Shortness of breath

Chest pain


Muscles weakness

Swelling of the calves


Difficulty walking

Contractions/Pre-term labor

Unusual absence of fetal movement

If you weren't involved in a regular exercise program prior to getting pregnant, the 1st trimester isn't the time to start. If you are interested in incorporating exercise into your pregnancy try walking or other light exercise initially but wait until your 2nd trimester to add more challenging activities.

By this time, morning sickness should have subsided, you'll be feeling more energetic than before, and your body will be more ready to handle the demands of an exercise program.

Of course we recommend checking with your doctor about exercising while pregnant - regardless of your activities beforehand. They may have slight modifications and/or suggestions for you specifically.

For specific exercises to do during each trimester of your pregnancy, complete with photos and descriptions, check out The Fit and Healthy Pregnancy Guide.