The Best Body Weight Exercises When Pregnant
When pregnant, you may feel that intense exercise is out of the question – but that is not the case. Exercising whilst pregnant has been shown to reduce aches and pains, as well as contributing to mental well-being. It’s incredibly beneficial for you and your baby! Studies have shown that mild to moderate exercise whilst pregnant helps you to sleep better, reduces excessive weight gain, depression, and can even prepare your body for labor – and make the labor shorter!
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists suggests 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week – or 30-minute workouts 5 days a week. You should, of course, always speak to your doctor before beginning an exercise program, and listen to your body.
So, whilst you are pregnant, and exercise is probably the last thing on your mind, it’s worth considering the benefits and checking out these best body weight exercises.
Using weight machines to lift weights is ideal because they control your range of motion and prevent you from hurting yourself!
In addition, it’s a good idea to avoid any machines that press on your belly – obviously – like seated rowing machines and abdominal machines. It’s also crucial to avoid any machines that have you do any kind of overhead lift, as this is stressful for the lower back and can curve your spine.
“For your upper body, you can use machines like the seated chest press, biceps and triceps machines, and seated cable row. Do 1 or 2 sets of 8-12 reps on each, and in no time you’ll be strong enough to carry a baby and groceries – at the same time!” says Carmen Lewis, a sports writer at Writinity and Researchpapersuk.
For your lower body, leg extensions and seated curls can strengthen those legs that will soon bear the weight of a baby!
Exercises at Home
If you don’t have access to a gym, don’t worry- there are plenty of pregnancy-friendly exercises you can do at home. Perform each exercise for 1 minute, completing 3 sets for a full 15-minute workout. You can then pair this with a 15-minute walk, or continue onto more intense exercises.
1. Standing Leg Swing: Standing with your feet a hip-width apart, shift your weight onto one leg and swing your other leg up so that it is parallel to the ground (or as close as possible!). You can use a wall or chair for support if need be. Repeat on the opposite leg. This exercise is great for opening your hips and increasing flexibility.
2. Hip stretch: Lying on your back (during the first 4 months of your pregnancy) or standing against a wall for balance (if you are far into your pregnancy), bend one knee and cross your left ankle over your right thigh, just above the bent right knee. Thread your left arm through space in-between your legs and interlace your fingers. Pull gently on your right leg, bringing it closer to your chest, and keep your feet flexed. Repeat on other leg.
3. Child’s pose: Another great hip opener, kneel on all fours, and open your hips to fit your belly. Sit back so that your butt is touching your heels and extend your arms out to the ground in front of you. Rest your shoulders and forehead on the floor.
Intense Body Weight Exercises
1. Squat: This is great for your whole body, including your glutes and core. Standing with your feet a hip-width apart, keep your back straight and bend your knees to lower into a squat. “Your arms should move with you, remaining at the front of your body as a balance, and your shoulders and upper body should be straight. You can make this more difficult by raising a leg as you lower into a squat, to perform squat to leg lift exercise,” says Cyndi Dennis, a fitness blogger at Draft Beyond and Last minute writing.
2. Push up: Start in a high plank with your hands under your shoulders and your feet a hip-width apart. Drop your chest until it’s in line with your elbows, and then press away from the floor to regain a plank. To make it easier, you can drop your knees.
3. Cross-back lunge: Standing with – yep, you guessed it – your feet a hip-width apart, slide your left leg diagonally backward into a lunge position. Press down into your left heel and lift back up into a starting position. Let your arms swing naturally. This is a great exercise for your core and legs!