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Tips For Exercising When Pregnant

How Pregnancy Ruins Workouts (and Ways to Deal)

Not everyone feels like running a marathon when they're pregnant or lifting heavy weights — heck most expectant mommas have a hard time making it off the couch to go pee! Symptoms of pregnancy can be so intense that they make exercising seem nearly impossible. Since our doctors want us to be active to stay strong and healthy, and to avoid excessive pregnancy weight gain, here's how you can alleviate some of the issues pregnancy brings up that might get in the way of your workouts.

  • Urinating often: In a 30-minute workout session, you may have the urge to pee (or accidentally leak) three different times. Work out close to a bathroom so you can quickly relieve yourself, and get back to your workout.
  • Feeling overheated: Head indoors where the AC is flowing, and make sure you're wearing comfortable workout clothes made of breathable wicking material. If you love being outside, move your workouts to a pool or lake.
  • Round ligament pain: As your belly expands, the round ligaments that support your uterus are getting stretched out, so it makes sense that you'd feel intense cramp-like pains in your lower belly. Wearing a supportive compression band that's specifically designed for prenatal exercise might help. If you feel a sharp twinge during a sweat session, reduce the intensity of your workout, and if that doesn't bring relief, take a break.
  • Lower back pain: As your baby grows, your lower spine begins to curve in response to your protruding belly. Stretching your lower back helps immensely. Try this hip and back stretching sequence. If shooting pains radiate from your back down your leg, these yoga poses should offer relief from sciatica.
  • Upset stomach: Between nausea and constipation, you've got digestive issues covered, so try to eat bland foods that keep your tummy happy. Nausea may be worse at certain times of the day, such as early morning, so find times to work out when you're not worrying about having to run to the bathroom.
  • Fatigue: Growing a baby is hard work, so it's no surprise that you feel like napping all the time. Resting your body is important, but so is keeping up with exercise. Find times to work out when you're least tired, and shorten workouts when necessary.
  • Weak upper body: Release your expectations about what you used to be able to do and focus on your present abilities. That might mean doing modifications of exercises, like placing your knees on the floor when doing push-ups. When strength training, move to lighter-weight dumbbells.
  • Restrictions on what you can do: You may not be able to lie on your back and do crunches, so find other ways to work your core like doing Seated Russian Twists and plank variations. Instead of lying on your belly to strengthen your back doing Superman, get on your hands and knees and do Alternating Two-Point Plank.

Pregnancy only lasts about nine months, so do what you can — here's a list of great workouts and videos — and remember you can get back to your old workout routine soon after your little one arrives.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Grace Hitchcock
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Minda15244215 Minda15244215 2 years
Working out is great, but if you're high risk (like me) you may have to take it easy. Swimming will be my go-to when I am cleared by my doc for more exercise!
Jenny-Sugar Jenny-Sugar 5 years
I second that about prenatal yoga! I learned so much in that class, from the instructor and the other mommies. I also made some great friends that I still keep in touch with.
Kim-Foster-MD Kim-Foster-MD 5 years
When I was pregnant I always found I just ran out of energy/breath too fast to really exercise, and even got lightheaded sometimes. The best activities to do when you're pregnant, I think: swimming (supports that bod), and prenatal yoga (bonus to a prenatal yoga class--all the mommy-to-be bonding!) In the class I took we all had herbal tea and cookies and chatted afterwards. It was lovely..
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