Disclaimer: This post is based purely on my experience. I am not a doctor or fitness professional….consult with one or both of those before beginning a prenatal exercise routine.
Four months into my pregnancy, one of my top priorities is staying as active as possible. Regular exercise keeps me sane and reduces my stress levels big time, so I knew I would want to continue during this exciting, fun and, yes, extra stressful time in my life.
The advice around exercise during pregnancy is a little murky. For example, my doctor told me I should keep my heart rate under 140 beats per minute while working out. For one thing, I never measured my heart rate to begin with and didn’t really want to start doing it now. Plus, that just seemed so low! It turns out that advice might be kind of outdated.
I was also told to continue with the types of exercise I was doing before. This seems like good advice, but the truth is, it’s not necessarily that easy. My favorite type of exercise is running, but I was exhausted during my first trimester, and running would sap what little energy I had.
With conflicting medical advice in hand and a bout of exhaustion to contend with, I had to get creative AND stay smart when it came to working out. And now that I am feeling more like myself, my growing size means that approach needs to continue.
Now, I do believe you should listen to your doctor, especially if you have a high-risk pregnancy or certain conditions like high-blood pressure. I am not a doctor or fitness professional. But I also advocate for listening to your body – if you are pushing too hard, your body will tell you…if you are paying attention.
I found it difficult to find ideas for prenatal exercises I would like, and of course everyone is different. But I am going to share a few of my favorites today!
- Kickboxing workouts (at home)
To be honest, throwing punches while pregnant just makes me feel like a badass! I also like that the kickboxing workouts I’ve found online tend to be total body but relatively low impact – meaning I get a fantastic workout without too much strain on my body.
I especially love this one from Jessica Smith TV (a great resource for all kinds of at-home workouts, by the way). You may find with videos like these that you need to make some modifications depending on what feels right for your body. For this video, I skip the oblique crunches in horse stance in favor of pulsing squats, and replace the crunches at the end with push-ups and plank.
- Strength training
In general, I am currently favoring any workout that makes me feel strong. I often create my own circuit workouts at the gym. I will cycle through three or four groups of exercises for three rounds each, targeting my legs and arms with a little core thrown in.
There are so many types of yoga, which makes it easy to find a video or class that feels right for your body. I have never taken a prenatal-specific yoga class, but it’s on my list to try. When I am feeling up for it, I’ll tackle this yoga-style strength workout from Jillian Michaels, or when I need a good stretch, I opt for this short, restorative video.
- Running, but differently
Now that I am feeling more energetic, running is back on the table. That said, it’s different than how it was pre-pregnancy. I find myself going slower and focusing more on how I feel than how far I’ve gone. But because I sometimes still want to go fast, I settle for incorporating intervals with plenty of recovery time.
- Jog for four minutes at a slow, comfortable pace.
- Run for two minutes at a faster pace (but one that still feels good)
- Walk for two minutes to recover
- Repeat 4-6 times
- Miscellaneous cardio
I’ve rediscovered the elliptical machine and the bike while pregnant. Each cardio machine on its own offers limitless possibilities for a solid workout, but I also like to cycle through multiple machines. I will spend 5 minutes each on the bike, elliptical and treadmill, and repeat that circuit 2-3 times for a 30 or 45 minute workout.
Hopefully these examples of some of my favorite workouts inspire you. And please share your preferred workouts – prenatal and otherwise – below!