Exercise isn’t always at the top of the list for most pregnant women or new moms. The idea may seem almost laughable to many when you’re too tired to move from the couch or up half the night with a newborn.
Staying active during pregnancy and after the baby comes is actually a great way to help you feel better. Exercise has been proven to give you more energy, and it can reduce your risk of pregnancy complications, including excessive weight gain, gestational diabetes and hypertension.
Katy Myers has a unique perspective on working out during pregnancy. As a lead exercise physiologist at the Center for Fitness and Health at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center, she works closely with cardiac patients to develop exercise routines that get them moving and keep them healthy. She’s also pregnant with her first child.
“My doctor told me she didn’t care what I did, as long as I was moving and the baby was safe,” she says. “Exercise can be as simple as going out for a walk everyday. There’s no need to develop complicated workout plans or pick up a new hobby.”
Here are tips from Katy to help you get moving:
- Talk with your doctor before beginning. Your medical history, fitness level before pregnancy and current pregnancy experience can impact what exercise is appropriate for you.
- Avoid positions when you’re lying on your back. It can compress nerves and decrease blood circulation for you and your baby.
- Do the talk test. Make sure you are able to carry on a conversation throughout your workout to make sure you are not overexerting yourself.
- Make it easy on yourself. Find something you enjoy, or stay with the activities you’re already doing. Walking and yoga are two great workouts for pregnant women.
- Get clearance from your doctor. Depending on your delivery and health, the safe window to resume exercise could be anywhere from 6-8 weeks after childbirth.
- Sneak it in. Try squeezing in a workout when your baby naps. Yoga, core workouts and simple strength training are a few exercises you can do in your living room while your little one dozes.
- Up the intensity. Once your doctor gives you the okay, give a high-intensity workout a try. High intensity interval training (HIIT) is a great way to get your heart rate up and burn more calories in a shorter period of time. Jumping jacks, jumping rope and timed weight lifting are great high-intensity workouts you can do at home.
- Go for a walk. Grab the stroller or strap on the baby carrier and go for a walk. Head to the sidewalk or hit the trails – whatever you feel comfortable doing – to get a great workout and enjoy some fresh air.
- Workout with you baby. Sign up for fitness classes you can do with your baby, like yoga or stroller fit. It’s a great way to get out of the house, meet other new moms and stay active!
Before you start working out, keep one last piece of advice from Katy in mind: “Your body knows best. If you’re having an off-day, stop or decrease your intensity.”