The majority of healthy women can continue, or even start, exercising when they become pregnant. It’s key. though, to learn how to modify your workout so that you can comfortably exercise through the end of your pregnancy. The core of cardiovascular training consists of four factors: exercise intensity, duration, frequency, and type. Trainers use these four components when developing a fitness program for all populations. Some fine-tuning during pregnancy is needed to keep things safe, though. Read on for pregnancy workout modifications you can try right away.
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Focus on how you feel.
The most important safety point is to closely monitor how you feel both during and after exercise. The challenges of pregnancy can frequently change how well you tolerate your fitness program from week to week. As your pregnancy progresses, incorporating the following modification techniques into your routine can help you to continue exercising. When exercise starts to feel too difficult or you run into challenges completing moves, it’s a sign that your routine needs a change.
Try slowing down the pace of your workout. For example, if you’re running you can slow to a jog, or switch to walking, if you start to feel out of breath. See if your fitness routine starts to feel more comfortable with an intensity drop, and, if so, continue with your usual duration, frequency, and type of exercise.
Divide and Conquer
If reducing your intensity isn’t helping, think about breaking up your duration into two bouts. Break a 40-minute workout into two 20 minute workout. You can also try reducing the total time by five to ten minutes. Modifying intensity and duration may allow you to continue with your usual exercise. If after modifying you still feel discomfort, try cutting one active day from your frequency. Sometimes, your body just needs more rest, so you may be able to increase your workout frequency again, as your body adjusts.
Try Something New
If your usual workouts are too uncomfortable, try switching to another activity. If you’re a runner, but can’t continue because of joint or round ligament discomfort, try a non-weight-bearing exercise, such as stationary cycling. In many cases, a switch to non-weight-bearing exercises—like swimming, biking, or those performed on some types of stationary equipment—can help ease up joint and muscle discomfort.
And if you find yourself getting anxious, try easing up on the physical activity and try exercising your mind with an Aaptiv meditation instead.
More pregnancy workout modifications:
- Swap out activities that require a high level of balance, with those that don’t put you at risk for falling. If you start to feel unsteady with your usual exercise activity, look for an alternative that doesn’t require excellent balance.
- After the first trimester, avoid doing exercises that require you to be on your back for long periods of time. Modify supine exercises by using a wedge or pillow to raise your upper body.
- Your feet can grow during pregnancy, so go in for a professional shoe fitting to make sure your exercise shoes fit securely. For greater shock absorption, swap out the shoe liner for a gel insert.
- If you love biking trails, consider switching to a stationary bike or riding on paved trails, instead. Remember to always wear a helmet and avoid riding on high traffic, exhaust-heavy roads.
- Back pain sidelines many women during pregnancy. Try a pool workout! The reduced effect of gravity on your body can ease the strain of carrying the weight of a growing baby. Plus, it offers a great alternative to other exercise modes in later pregnancy.
- Yoga is a great way to build strength and flexibility, but can become challenging for some women when pregnant. If some positions and movements become too difficult, ease up on your range of motion and the duration of holds.
Continue to be creative with your fitness routine, so you can reach the finish line of pregnancy as fit as possible. You and your baby will benefit from consistent exercise performed during your pregnancy.
Catherine Cram is an exercise physiologist and a leading expert in the field of maternal fitness. Her consulting company, “Prenatal and Postpartum Fitness” specializes in providing the most current maternal exercise information and continuing education courses to health and fitness professionals.