Preggercize: 5 Baby Steps Toward Fitness for Pregnant Women by Jessica Mazzucco Certified Fitness Trainer
Pregnancy comes with its share of unwanted physical side effects. Provided it’s OK with your physician, chances are good that increasing your level of exercise will ease the negative side effects of being pregnant and fight pregnancy fatigue.
Low-level tiredness plagues many women during the first trimester, then again late in the third trimester. It seems paradoxical, but sometimes getting too much rest can actually make you feel more exhausted. And while you should never push yourself too hard when you're pregnant, a little nudge can make a big difference in your pregnancy energy level. So take baby steps. You'll be surprised at how peppy you feel afterward!
I advise women to get medical clearance from their OB/GYN before engaging in any type of exercise. Here are five exercises for pregnant women:
- One Arm Dumbbell Row (Back and Arms): Place one hand and one knee on a utility bench, with the torso almost horizontal, maintain a flat back in a neutral spine position. With the hand that is not on the bench, grip the dumbbell using an overhand grip (with the thumb wrapped around the dumbbell) and extend the arm to the side. To initiate movement, bend arm at elbow and shoulder to pull the dumbbell upward until it reaches the torso. Extend the arm, following the same path used for the upward movement, performing the full range of motion. Do two sets of 15 reps each, rest 20 to 30 seconds in between.
- Knee Push Ups (Chest, Arms and Shoulders): Come to a hands and knees position (quadruped) on the mat with your hands directly under your shoulders, fingers facing forward and knees under your hips. Engage the abdominals and pull the shoulder blades down your back. Reposition your knees as needed to create a straight line in your body from the knees, through the torso and out through the head. There should be no bend at the hips. Keeping the torso rigid and head aligned with your spine, slowly bend your elbows and lower your body toward the floor. Your elbows should remain close to the sides of your body or flare outwards slightly. Maintaining a rigid torso and head aligned with your spine, press upward through your arms. Do two sets of 10 to 15 reps, rest 20 to 30 seconds in between.
- Bodyweight Squats (Legs, Butt, Hips and Core): Begin standing with your feet slightly wider than hip-width and your toes turned out slightly. Your hands are by your sides with your palms facing inward. Keeping your back flat, hinge at your hips and shift them back and down. Your hips and knees bend simultaneously. Continue to lower yourself until your thighs are parallel or almost parallel to the floor. While maintaining the position of your back, chest and head and with the abdominals engaged, exhale and return to start position by pushing your feet into the floor through your heels. Do two sets of 15 reps each, rest 20 to 30 seconds in between.
- Dumbbell Reverse Lunge (Legs, Butt, Hips): Stand with the feet shoulder-width apart, and hold a dumbbell at each side. Keeping the torso vertical, take a large step backward. Once the rear foot makes contact with the ground, move downward so that the knee of the rear leg is just above the floor. Ensure that the front knee does not move beyond the toes of the front foot. For each repetition, return to the starting position by following the same path used for the downward movement. Do two sets of 15 reps at each side, rest 20 to 30 seconds in between.
- Side Plank (Obliques): While lying on your side bend one elbow to about 90 degrees and rise off the floor. Keep the spine neutral and align the head with the torso. Hold the position for 20 seconds and repeat two times on each side.
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