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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Elizabeth Street

EXERCISING THROUGH YOUR PREGNANCY? HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

May 21, 2014

Exercising Through Your Pregnancy? Here's What You Need to Know

It's a fantastic idea to exercise during pregnancy. As long as you listen closely to your body, you might find that challenging yourself in your fitness helps you feel happier, more energetic, and more refreshed while you're expecting.

It's important to keep in mind, however, that you will need to honor your lighter days. Perhaps you're feeling a little more tired, or you engaged in a heavy workout the day before and need to let yourself recover. But as long as you have been cleared by your doctor and you know your body well, there are several ways to strengthen your muscles and get your cardio in on a slightly slower and smaller scale.

1. Short walks. Walking is a great low-impact way to get some exercise, raise your heart rate a bit, and get some fresh air. Many of us don't have the time to walk for 20-30 minutes at a time, but breaking up the time into two 15-minute walks can be equally effective. Just be sure to drink water, especially if the weather is warm.

2. Easy planks. If your body still feels OK doing planks, this is a great full-body exercise you can do at home...or anywhere! One of my favorite versions of a low plank (on your forearms) is starting with both knees down and lifting both knees together to the beat of music. You can also alternate touching each knee to the ground. 

3. Stretching. Your hips can get pretty tight as your pregnancy progresses. I am personally a big fan of stretching while watching my favorite TV show. Next time you're in your living room, try sitting on the ground with your feet together and your knees falling to each side. Lift up in your spine, then lean forward while coaxing your knees down to the ground. If you put your hands on your feet, try pushing each knee down with your elbows (gently!).

4. Arm exercises. Even if you are tired, there are some great arm exercises you can do while sitting down. Start by grabbing two full water bottles or even two larger soup cans. Hold one in each hand and reach your arms out to each side. Keeping your chest lifted, abs pulled in, and your shoulders anchored down the back, try these easy arm exercises:

- Circle your arms back 20x, then circle them forward 20x.

- Keeping your arms outstretched to the sides with your palms facing forward, pulse arms up and down 20x.

- Lean forward and reach both arms behind your body with your palms facing the ceiling. (Keep your chest reaching forward so that you're not hunching your shoulders.) Keeping your arms straight and lifted behind you, pulse them up and down 40x.

5. Rest and breathe. Your body will tell you when to slow down, and it's a good idea to listen. As you get farther along in your pregnancy, you might find that your breathing becomes a little restricted, and you might even feel dizzy at times. Use your down time as a chance to sit quietly and focus on taking some deep and wide breaths. Imagine filling a balloon all the way down to the base of your back. Imagine that this balloon fills out wide to each side of your low back like wings. 

Enjoy these exercises, and remember: always listen to your body!

Keep it up once the little bundle arrives. Click through our slideshow for easy routines you can do with baby right by your side. 

By Mahri Relin

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