Maybe you haven’t been committed to exercise in the past. You can still reap the benefits of prenatal fitness and start a healthful habit that you can carry on as a new mom. Here’s where to start—and how to stick with it later.
Even if you hadn’t been active before pregnancy, you can begin a pregnancy fitness plan now and experience the many benefits of exercise, including increased energy and less back pain. The first important step: Check with your doctor for any precautions. Once you have your doctor’s OK, try these steps to help you get started and stay motivated.1- 3
Ease Into Prenatal Fitness
- Start slow. If you’re new to exercise, it’s best to start with as little as 5 minutes daily, while slowly working your way up to 30 minutes most days of the week.1, 2 Walking through the neighborhood, opting for the stairs, or taking an extra lap around the mall are all simple things you can do to stay fit.1
- Stay safe. To guard against going too hard too fast, always make sure that you can still carry on a conversation while exercising.1, 3
Choose Low-Impact Activities
- Walk your way fit. Aim for 1 mile a day, three days a week, at a moderately brisk pace, adding a couple of minutes to your walks every week.3
- Say yes to yoga. Prenatal yoga classes are a popular, gentle choice among expectant moms.1, 4, 5
- Take to water. Swimming works most of your muscles, and water gives you a feeling of weightlessness2, 3 that you may be particularly grateful for once you enter your final trimester.
- Pass by any high-risk exercises. Stay away from activities with the potential for falls (such as horseback riding, downhill skiing, and water skiing) and contact sports (such as basketball, soccer, and hockey). 1, 2
Make Fitness Sustainable During Pregnancy and Beyond
- Make a plan. Exercise is more likely to become a habit if it’s enjoyable and compatible with your schedule. Create a pregnancy fitness plan that includes activities you like during the days and hours you can do them and add the routine to your calendar. 1, 6
- Find a fitness buddy. Working out is more fun if you don’t have to do it alone. Plus, having someone to motivate and support you will make it easier to stick to fitness commitments.1
- Mix it up. Join a prenatal Pilates class or go for a hike—the more creative and varied your fitness routine, the more likely you are to stick with it through pregnancy.1
- Track the rewards. Do you have more energy on days you exercise? Sleep better that night? Keep an exercise journal, or just jot down a few notes and post them somewhere as a reminder of why you’re making fitness a priority in your life.
1Pregnancy and Exercise: Baby, Let’s Move! - Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/pregnancy-and-exercise/art-20046896
2Exercise During Pregnancy. - American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Exercise-During-Pregnancy
3Exercising During Pregnancy. - KidsHealth from Nemours. http://kidshealth.org/parent/pregnancy_center/your_pregnancy/exercising_pregnancy.html
4Yoga for Health. - National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NIH). http://nccam.nih.gov/health/yoga/introduction.htm
5Prenatal yoga: What you need to know. - Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/prenatal-yoga/art-20047193
6Fit for Two: Tips for Pregnancy. - Weight Control Information Network (WIN), National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://www.win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/two.htm