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5 Prenatal Workouts

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Working out while pregnant keeps you feeling good about yourself. Plus, a fit body is more able to sustain the rigors of childbirth, ward off excessive weight gain and reduce your risk of complications, such as back pain and gestational diabetes.

You’ll also find it easier to bounce back once your bundle is born, so you can keep up with him as he grows and becomes active. Rachel Karstens, a master trainer certified by both the National Academy of Sports Medicine and the American Council on Exercise, says “working out is invaluable as a new mom; it’s a good stress reliever and releases endorphins.”

Do get clearance from your doctor before beginning any prenatal workout, especially if exercise is new to you. Once you’re ready to go, try one or more of these options.

Yoga is natural exercise for moms to be. It hones balance – which is challenged by your growing belly – and eases lower back pain. Yoga can also teach you to breathe effectively, which serves you well during labor. You’ll appreciate the strength yoga gives your pelvic floor, too.

Seek out a prenatal yoga class at a local gym, yoga studio or hospital. Many prenatal yoga DVDs and online workouts are also available. If you can’t find a specific prenatal yoga class, attend a gentle Hatha practice and let the instructor know that you’re pregnant. You’ll want to avoid any poses that have you twisting aggressively, laying on your belly or reclining on your back. Props, such as blocks, straps and bolsters help you achieve the shape of some poses while protecting your unborn baby.


Walking is available anywhere, anytime. If the weather or terrain isn’t right – you can even jump on a treadmill. Even the fitness newbie can walk for short bursts of 10 minutes at a time, two to three times per day on most days during the week.

In the first trimester, you may walk at a brisk pace and tackle hills. As your pregnancy progresses, consistency is most important. Your walk may slow down and become more of a waddle, but the movement helps promote healthy circulation and discourages swelling in the feet. Aim for at least 30 minutes per day, most days of the week. But, if you’re just not feeling up to it – give yourself permission to listen to your body and take a day off.


“Swimming can be a great exercise as well,” says Karstens. Exercising in water just feels good when you’re pregnant. The buoyancy of the water supports your joints, so you can work intensely with less stress. Add buoys and water dumbbells to get a strength workout in the pool, too. Attend local water aerobics classes to get ideas about how to move in the water to maximize your effort.

Stroller Workouts
You may think stroller workouts are reserved for after baby is born, but there’s a lot of value in attending them while you’re pregnant. You can meet new moms and learn a little about the birthing process and the first few weeks postpartum.

These workouts usually involve resistance bands, walking and calisthenics – great options to help you get in shape before, and after, your baby’s birth. Body weight squats, planks and upper body strength exercises are all appropriate. Do consult with the instructor to see if there are modifications you should make to the exercises as you’re still pregnant.

Weight Machine Circuit

Free weights pose a greater risk to your body during pregnancy. Your center of gravity is off and your joints are looser, so it’s easy to move beyond a safe range of motion. Don’t give up on strength training, though. Weight machines are the perfect option; they support your form and the weight is easy to adjust.

Do a circuit, meaning you visit each machine in quick succession for 30 to 60 seconds each. Do one to three rounds of the circuit for a complete workout.

The machines that will give you the most for your time include:
*Seated row
*Leg extension
*Lat pull-down
*Seated chest press
*Biceps and triceps machines
*Seated leg curl

Avoid any machine that has you lying on your belly or flat on your back.

Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef and a Certified Nutrition Therapist. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University. She’s the proud mom of two kids, who love dance, rock climbing and animals.

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