A well-rounded exercise program during pregnancy improves your overall fitness level and prepare the body for childbirth. Strengthening exercises complement cardiovascular and flexibility exercises for pregnant women. Strenuous exercise can be dangerous during pregnancy, especially to women with high-risk pregnancies. Check with your physician before starting a new strength-training routine.
Strong muscles during pregnancy support your growing abdomen for better mobility. Strengthening the muscles also helps many pregnant women ease aches and pains. For example, stronger abdominal muscles support the uterus and spine, which can help reduce back pain. Strong legs support your body with the extra weight gained during pregnancy. Stronger muscles help improve your overall stamina and may help your labor and delivery go smoothly.
Strong muscles throughout the body are key during pregnancy. Most strengthening exercises focus on a particular area of the body, such as the arms, legs or abdomen. Some cardiovascular exercises also strengthen the muscles of the body. Walking is a prime example of an exercise that is considered safe during pregnancy. Regular walks strengthen the legs for a strong base for the pregnant body. Swimming strengthens arm and leg muscles while you get in your cardio. Yoga also strengthens the body in all areas.
To strengthen the legs, try a side leg raise. Lie on your side with your bottom knee bent. Keep the top leg straight and raise it up and down between eight and 12 times; then repeat on the other side. Abdominal strengthening exercise options include fitness ball crunches and the pelvic tilt. Crunches performed on a fitness ball are better for pregnancy because they keep you off your back. For the pelvic tilt, get on all fours and tighten your ab muscles as you arch your back. Release the tension and repeat. Arm exercises with light hand weights help strengthen those muscles. Try biceps curls or arm raises.
The safety of you and your baby is a priority when exercising during pregnancy. Avoid strength exercises that require that you lie on you back. During the second trimester and beyond, this position can lead to reduced oxygen and blood flow to the uterus. Don’t push yourself too hard on your strengthening exercises. Overexertion often leads to injuries.
Add strength training to your regular workout routine two or three days a week. If a particular strength move causes unusual pain, stop immediately and discuss the problem with your physician. Vaginal bleeding or contractions are other reasons to stop your routine and get a professional opinion.