According to The University of North Carolina’s study on pregnant women, fewer than 25% of moms-to-be are meeting healthy exercise recommendations– this means less than 1 in 4 women are exercising during every stage of pregnancy!
Prenatal exercise boasts tons of benefits, and not just for your muscles: regular exercise can help boost your energy, build strength and endurance for pregnancy & after baby, and now we know it can improve your health AND your baby’s health! Active moms who maintain a healthy body weight through good nutrition and exercise typically have:
- fewer pregnancy complications
- faster recovery
- deliver healthy babies in the ideal weight range, with excellent brain function
For all these benefits and more, participating in an exercise program even before you start trying to conceive (since your eggs begin to mature about 3 months before conception) and in early pregnancy, can help promote a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby! To give you a head start, we’ve assembled the 3 best exercises for early pregnancy health.
1) Forward Rolls: These allow you to stretch your tight abdominals (belly and sides), while strengthening your deep core and your back muscles, both of which take on extra strain during pregnancy! To Perform Forward Rolls:
- Start on your knees with the ball positioned close to you. Exhale, tucking your chin towards your chest, and slowly roll the ball out in front of you.
- Inhale and hold, breathing into your belly, allowing a stretch.
- Exhale as you press your arms into the ball, engaging your core, then tucking your chin and hips to articulate your spine back to starting position.
- Repeat for 3 to 5 times
2) Squats: An excellent overall lower body strengthening exercise, and great for targeting the pelvic floor & deep core! A strong lower body will help you carry your baby safely and reduce injury during pregnancy and postpartum.
Remember: “A proper squat burns more calories because it engages more muscles than almost any other exercise, especially when you add arm movements too!”
To Perform A Squat:
- Stand with your legs wider than shoulder-width and slightly turned out for wide squats, or stand with legs shoulder-width apart for narrow squats.
- Inhale as you lower into a comfortable deep squat, keeping your weight in your hips and heels.
- Exhale to stand up.
- Repeat for 10 to 20 reps
3) Walking is a safe option to keep up with cardio, especially when you’re feeling too tired for a high-intensity workout. It’s also a great way to get some fresh air! There are many safe variations of cardiovascular exercise– whether you’re pre-pregnancy, currently pregnant, or postpartum. Remember to listen to your body, and perform the Talk Test to ensure you aren’t over-exerting yourself.
“During pregnancy your blood volume increases around 50%! Due to this change, it’s easy to become lightheaded during position changes, so be cautious about moving to rapidly.”
If you are new to exercise, be sure to talk with your doctor before beginning any exercise program, and remember to start slow, gradually increasing duration and intensity based on your health and how you feel. There is no better time to add these safe exercises to your day than now– whether you’re pregnant, trying to conceive, or have baby(ies) at home! These exercises will help keep you fit, healthy, and happy at any stage.