Pilates, yoga and water aerobics are the most commonly recommended exercises for pregnant women. These are gentle exercises that strengthen the core muscles, aids in maintaining abdominal muscle tone, and improve flexibility, among other benefits. But if your doctor gives the go signal, you can add these cardio and strength training exercises.
Cardio Is the Way to Go
You can stay active during pregnancy if you were active before it. But if you weren’t, you can start now, too, especially as exercise can make your pregnancy easier. You can start with 30 minutes of brisk walking at least three days a week.
But you have to reduce the intensity of your exercises when you’re pregnant. Your best gauge is the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE), a scale of 0 to 10. You should aim for a 3 to 5 intensity, which means you can still talk normally even while exercising.
Tip: Don’t use wearable fitness technology and rely on the heart rate readouts on cardio machines when you’re pregnant. During pregnancy, your blood volume increases and your resting heart rate is higher than normal, thus, these devices aren’t the most accurate gauge of intensity. Listen to your body instead – if you feel dizzy or lightheaded, experience shortness of breath, and feel faint, then stop.
You can try every cardio machine at a 24 Hour Fitness gym. This way, you can choose which one you’re most comfortable with.
A treadmill is a good idea because you can control the speed and incline. An elliptical trainer and stationary bike are also great cardio machines because these place little stress on your joints.
Get the Weights, Too
Don’t be afraid of weights even when you’re heavy with child. The trick is to choose the right exercises, as well as stay in the safe zone so that you don’t increase your risk of injury. With your joints and ligaments looser than normal, you may be able to move outside of your normal range but it also means overextending or overstretching.
Also, you should avoid padded weight machines that can press against your growing stomach; an abdominal machine and a seated row machine are good examples. You should also avoid overhead lifts since these can increase your risk of hyperlordosis, or abnormal curvature of the spine.
Instead, we recommend the lat pull down and seated cable row for the upper and middle back; the seated chest press for the chest; the biceps and triceps exercises for your arms and shoulders; and the leg extension and seated leg curl for the lower body. Add the plank for your core muscles, if you still can.