While walking is a good exercise throughout pregnancy, some effective and safe prenatal exercises come with tons of additional health benefits. But before you slip into your sneakers and hit the track, make sure you consult with your doctor. Most practitioners not only permit working out during pregnancy, but they also encourage women to stick to their usual workout schedules for as long as possible.
With your doctor’s approval, and by being cautious, you can reap the full benefits of exercising during pregnancy regardless of how your workout habits were before conceiving.
FIVE BENEFITS OF AT-HOME PRENATAL EXERCISES
Leads to Shorter Labour
A mother with good fitness levels will enjoy shorter labour, less exhaustion during labour, and fewer medical interventions. Additionally, it helps you with the endurance required to get through labour.
Increases the Chances of Vaginal Delivery
Women who engage in regular workouts during pregnancy are less likely to have unplanned Caesarean sections than their counterparts who don’t exercise.
Helps With Backaches, Pelvic Girdle Pain and More
It’s no secret that the pressure on your lower half increases with your growing baby bump, resulting in lower back pain, achy pelvis, and other related aches. Working out regularly might help control this.
Helps Maintain A Healthy Weight
By maintaining your fitness level through prenatal workouts, you are less likely to gain excess weight. Many experts believe that gaining over 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy makes it harder to lose weight after the baby is born.
Reduces Mood Swings and Chances of Depression
Pregnant women are more susceptible to depression. Research shows that one in two women report increased anxiety while they are expecting. Nevertheless, studies prove that exercise helps reduce pregnancy-related depression by releasing endorphins that improve one’s mood while diminishing stress and anxiety.
Other major benefits of at-home prenatal workouts include improved sleep, increased energy and endurance, low levels of tiredness, and lowered blood pressure.
With your body changing during pregnancy, staying fit and keeping the baby safe are all about small but crucial adjustments. Here are some safe and effective at-home prenatal exercises curated by our in-house fitness expert Shwetambari Shetty.
Remember to always use a mat for your exercises.
STEP 1: Lie down on your side with legs together and knees bent at a 45-degree angle
Step 2: Bend the arm on the lower side and rest your head on it. Keep the other arm on your hips. Take a few deep breaths
Step 3: As you exhale, move just the upper knee as high as possible while keeping your feet together
Step 4: Try keeping your pelvis and spine neutral. Hold for as long as comfortable
Step 5: Inhale and lower your knee back and repeat 10 times before switching to the other side
Primary Benefit: This exercise strengthens your glutes to better support your hips.
STEP 1: Lie down on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Keep your feet hip-width apart and take a deep breath
STEP 2: As you exhale, press your feet into the ground and squeeze your butt as you lift your hips up and off the mat
STEP 3: Come up high enough that your body makes a straight line from the shoulder to the knees
STEP 4: As you maintain the bridge, breathe normally and retain this for as long as you are comfortable
STEP 5: Deeply exhale and gently lower your body to the starting position. Repeat 5 times
Primary Benefit: Excellent for relieving lower back and hip aches.
STEP 1: Be on your fours with your knees on the ground
STEP 2: Keeping the leg bent, raise one of your legs to your side as shown in the image below. Do this 10 times or as many times as you are comfortable with on each side
Primary Benefit: Strengthens and tones the core as well as the glutes.
STEP 1: Be on your fours with your knees on the ground
STEP 2: Gently move your elbows to the ground
STEP 3: Stretch one foot back first and keep it on the ground with toes tucked towards you and repeat this for the other leg as well
STEP 4: Hold this for as long as you are comfortable
STEP 5: Be careful while coming out of this pose and follow these instructions very carefully: Bring your knees down and go back to being on all fours and then gently sit up
Primary Benefit: Strengthens the core and helps keep the spine in a neutral position.
STEP 1: Sit down with your spine straight and with the soles of your feet touching each other as shown in the picture below
STEP 2: Breathe in and place your hands on your knees
STEP 3: Breathe out and gently move your folded knees up and down. Breathe normally while doing this. Continue this for 30 seconds, take a break if needed and repeat 3 times
Primary Benefit: Relaxes the legs, opens up the thighs, hips and the pelvic muscles.
STEP 1: Stand up straight with your legs shoulder-width apart, open up your shoulders and keep your arms by your side. Keep your knees soft
STEP 2: Take a deep breath
STEP 3: As you breathe out, keep your back straight and bend forward from the hip as shown below. Do not slouch or hyper-extend your spine — keep it straight
STEP 4: Gently bend your knees a little bit, making sure that your knees do not cross your toes and that you are still able to see your toes clearly. Stop when your fingers reach your shin. Ensure your back is flat, head aligned with your spine
STEP 5: Now, exhale as you straighten your knees and back and come back to the starting position. Repeat 10–20 times
Note that this movement is not so much about going down and bending your knees as much as you do in a squat, but more about hinging forward from your hip while maintaining a straight spine.
Primary Benefit: Strengthens the muscles in the back of your body, especially the legs.
Deep Squats: an all-time exercise
Remember using our good old Indian toilets? That is exactly how a deep squat works and this happens to be one of the most beneficial exercises during pregnancy. It is something that you can do at any trimester as long as you feel comfortable. It might get slightly uneasy as the stomach gets bigger during the third trimester.
STEP 1: Keep your feet hip-width apart or slightly wider than that to accommodate the stomach
STEP 2: Push your hips back, bend the knees and slowly go drop your hips towards the floor. Go down as low as you can, all the way to floor if possible
STEP 3: Make sure that your back is straight, chest upright, knees pushed out diagonally, feet facing the same direction and heels firmly on the ground. The moment you feel your heels are lifting up, stop right there and maintain the position
STEP 4: Hold the position for 30 seconds or less based on how comfortable you feel and gently lift yourself up. You can gradually increase the hold time as you become more comfortable with this
If you are a beginner, we recommend that you do this with your back against the wall for extra support. You can also use a low stool or a chair if you feel that your heels are lifting up too soon.
Remember to warm up, stretch, and cool down when working out. Also, drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
Exercise leads to increased blood and oxygen flow to the muscles, away from your uterus. Thus, the rule of thumb is to be able to carry on a conversation while you are exercising. If you aren’t able to speak normally, it means you are probably pushing yourself too hard.
If you haven’t worked out in a while, begin with as little as 10 minutes of physical activity a day. Then, gradually build it up to 15 minutes, 20 minutes, and so on till you reach around 30 minutes a day. On the other hand, if you have exercised before pregnancy, you can continue working out at the same level.
What’s more, if you haven’t been a health nut, consider pregnancy as your motivation to begin exercising regularly.