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Home » Self-Care Blog » Pregnancy Exercises: What to Know. How to Choose.

Pregnancy Exercises: What to Know. How to Choose.

Pregnancy exercises: What to Know and How to Choose Safe, Effective Exercises.

During Pregnancy, your body is challenged with hormonal fluctuations soaring one moment and plummeting the next. It is essential to know how your body changes are going to impact exercise so you can better choose what’s safe and suitable for you. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Choosing Exercises that work with the Pregnant body is KEY.

Ligaments are laxer due to the hormones helping your body make space for the baby. This means that your body’s joint stability is less.

Center of gravity. When your Muscle Skeletal System is laxer, your C.O.G. is challenged further by the weight of your growing baby. Aches/pains can arise due to the progressive forward and downward pull on your spine.

Blood volume is on the rise, and veins have way more of it to move. They, too, are weaker due to hormone messaging. Organs slowly shift to make space for the baby, making less space for organs like your lungs. Nerves can get pinched.

When choosing exercises, it is vital to accommodate all these changes to protect your body and baby.

You can use 3-Goals to help filter exercises that are right for your rapidly changing pregnant body.

There Is A Hierarchy of 3 Goals when Choosing Exercises During Pregnancy

  1. Muscle Skeletal Balance: Choose Exercises Focused on Balancing the Muscle Skeletal System in each phase.
  2. Unrestricted Circulatory Movement: Choose Exercises Focused on how your Venous System works. Every exercise should build on the one before to promote blood flow upward, and with this, you should avoid exercises on your back. There is no need to exercise on the back anyway.
  3. Cardiovascular: Pay Attention to Heart Rate, training breathing, and your relaxation loop. This matters to you and your baby.
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Exercise

exercise n. 1. “physical activity performed esp. the training or improvement of the body.

3 Goals of Exercise During Pregnancy

When you exercise adhering to the three goals, you will contribute to the improvement of your Pregnant body and pregnancy experience.—This is exactly what Prenatal exercise should focus on.

The Hierarchy of Exercises During Pregnancy Provides the Framework.

Pregnancy Exercises: 3 Goals.

  1. FIRST: Balance the Muscle Skeletal System in each phase with exercises that pay attention to proper positioning.
  2. Do the Exercise Actions in the order that promotes venous flow.
  3. Pay Attention to Heart Rate. Train your breathing and the relaxation loop simultaneously.

1. Muscle Skeletal Balance First:

When exercises promote Muscle/Skeletal Balance FIRST, there is tremendous benefit to everyday activities. You can expect:

  • Joint strain to be reduced.
  • Fewer aches and pains.
  • Pelvic Floor strengthens.
  • Sleep to improve.
  • Digestion, Indigestion, and Bowels run smoother.
  • Improved balance and coordination, which is VERY helpful as your body gets bigger.
  • Less constriction of the Venous System – fewer vein bulges.
  • Nerves are less impinged, which helps to reduce tingling and numbness in arms, shoulders, necks, and upper backs…

Free PDF: 3 Safe & Effective Ab Exercises PLUS 2 Protective Ab Tips

Protect Your Joints With Exercises Focused On Muscle Skeletal Balance.

For women in their first pregnancy, they found that laxity increased from week 12 to 24 and then remained constant. (2)

When you do exercises that work the muscles on the Right and Left of the body in an equal fashion, along with exercises that work the Front and Back body in an optimal ratio for your changing posture your:

  • Pregnancy is more comfortable,
  • Labor and Delivery is optimized, and
  • Postnatally, you have a big advantage in recovering.
Pregnancy exercises Illustration of Pregnancy body Muscles to focus on for Safe Effective Exercises
Pregnancy exercises Illustration Back Muscle groups we use for the best pelvic floor pregnancy exercise
Pregnancy exercises Simple Illustration of How the Sitting C exercise helps the spine and pelvic floor
Todays Simple Self Care Tip

Sitting-C is the Number 1 Exercise I recommend that focuses specifically on Balancing the Muscle/Skeletal System (Posture) appropriately for each Prenatal Phase. I teach it in the Best Pelvic Floor Exercise.

Pregnant? The Best Pelvic Floor Exercise.

Pregnant? The Absolute BEST Pelvic Floor Exercise that’ll surprise you! SIMPLE & benefits your entire body NOW, during delivery & postpartum.

Feel better, Look Better, LIVE better…The Simple Self Care Lifestyle

The Sitting-C Trains ALL Posture Muscles.

The Sitting-C Trains ALL postural muscles and is the absolute best pregnancy exercise for the Pelvic Floor as well.

Bottomline. When choosing Pregnancy Exercises, opt for those that Balance the Muscle Skeletal System FIRST. This will pay off big time for the simple reason – You’ll have a more stable framework for the other 2 Pregnancy Exercise Goals (which is why they are 2nd and 3rd).

Next up, Goal 2: Circulation and Venous System.

2. Circulation – Venous System

Exercises that promote circulation are highly beneficial during pregnancy. Some benefits to expect:

  • Reducing swelling and discomfort swelling brings on.
  • An uptick in Mood.
  • Facilitation of delivering essential nutrients and oxygen to you and your baby,
  • Better Sleep.
  • Improving blood flow throughout the body is helpful for everyone, but especially for those who experience leg cramps.

Moving to Keep Your Blood Circulating Has Many Benefits, Including Helping to Reduce Leg Cramps.

Leg cramps can be super painful. Constricted blood flow to a muscle is one reason for cramping.

Relieving Leg Cramps. Woman pressing on calf muscle. The calf is highlighted in red to express it is cramped and painful.

Leg Cramps. Why do They Hurt?

Leg Cramps. Why they hurt, What you can do when you have one. Ways to reduce having them.

Feel better, Look Better, LIVE better…The Simple Self Care Lifestyle

Some excellent examples of exercises that promote circulation during pregnancy include:

  • Walking, Hiking,
  • Dancing.
  • Swimming.
  • Aerobic classes geared toward the pregnant body or adapting the class you are in.
  • Whatever aerobic exercise you enjoy, the key is adapting to the appropriate heart rate.
  • Reducing Leg Cramps
  • Even Squeeze/Release is beneficial to your circulation if you are in a pinch stuck in a chair or car…
Woman Squeeze Release Exercise to Improve Lymph System Function

Squeeze Release. Circulation & Lymph

One SIMPLE Action sprinkled throughout your day can make a big difference. Why, what to do, and how.

Feel better, Look Better, LIVE better…The Simple Self Care Lifestyle

The ACOG updated its recommendations on physical activity for pregnant and postpartum women. The recommendation included exercising at a “fairly light to somewhat hard” perceived intensity and at less than 60–80% of age-predicted maximum heart rate, usually not exceeding a heart rate of 140 beats per minute.(1)

Paying Attention to Your Heart Rate.

Bring your heart rate up slowly. Your heart rate will increase as a natural part of any aerobic exercise. You’ll want to get to know your pulse at different exercise levels. This way, you can better gauge your workouts and stay below the recommended 140 BPM.

There may be times when your heart rate is higher than other days during exercise. If that is the case, take a moment to use a tip or two to bring it back down.

Quick tips

  • Have something to drink that is hydrating.
  • Lower your arms if you are doing something where you are using them overhead.
  • If you are in a stressful situation, use the 4-7-8 Breathing (example video is below)
  • In general, slow the pace of the exercise you are doing.

Free PDF: 3 Safe & Effective Ab Exercises PLUS 2 Protective Ab Tips

Choosing Exercises During Pregnancy that:

  • Strengthen Your Muscle/Skeletal Balance and
  • Promote Circulation sets you up beautifully to benefit from the 3rd of the 3 Goals.

3. Training Your Breathing, Relaxation loop.

Training Breathing and Relaxation loop during Pregnancy is Goal 3.

  1. Training Your Breathing: Practicing specific breathing techniques can help you relax, reduce anxiety, bring blood pressure down, Reset your mood, and help you fall back to sleep. Plus, your training will pay off during labor and delivery, providing an increased oxygen supply to your body and baby.
  2. Relaxation loop: Engaging in breathing techniques will strengthen your relaxation loop (HPA Axis). These same exercises help you unwind and alleviate tension. This can be especially beneficial during pregnancy, when you may experience physical discomfort or emotional stress. A strong relaxation loop can help you manage pain, improve sleep, and enhance overall well-being.

4-7-8 Breathing

Incorporating and practicing the E for E breathing, the Box breathing, and 4-7-8 breathing all benefit your pregnancy exercise routine, which in turn contributes to a more positive and empowering pregnancy experience.

Questions To Help You Choose Exercises that are Safe For You During Pregnancy.

Things to Ask When Choosing Exercises

Questions:

  1. Does this exercise stay within my joint’s comfortable range of motion?
  2. Will this exercise have me positioned on my back, compressing my blood flow?
  3. Does this exercise work my muscles equally on the right and left of my body?
  4. Will I be exercising my muscles on the front and back of my body in a way that feels well within my normal posture?
  5. Is this activity keeping my heart rate below the 140 BPM (beats per minute) recommended?
  6. Am I positioned and moving all my muscles in a way that avoids constricting any area of my body so my blood flow and lymph can move freely?

Check out the FREE PDF: PREGNANT!?! 3 Safe & Effective Ab Exercises PLUS 2 Protective Ab Tips to get you started.

Free PDF: 3 Safe & Effective Ab Exercises PLUS 2 Protective Ab Tips

references:

  1. Evenson KR, Hesketh KR. Monitoring Physical Activity Intensity During Pregnancy. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2021 Nov 25;17(1):18-31. doi: 10.1177/15598276211052277. PMID: 36636387; PMCID: PMC9830234.
  2. G. A. Dumas, PhD1J. G. Reid, Ph.D. Laxity of Knee Cruciate Ligaments During Pregnancy. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical TherapyPublished Online:July 1, 1997Volume26Issue1Pages2-6

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Pregnancy Exercises: What to Know. How to Choose.