At-Home Pregnancy Exercise Program

For many people, leading a healthy lifestyle that includes eating well, following a regular exercise routine and getting enough sleep each night can be very challenging at times. Busy work schedules get in the way, important social occasions come up and family responsibilities and obligations take precedence.

Now, imagine how difficult this can be for a pregnant woman? (Of course, I can only speak from secondhand experience, being the husband of a mother of one who is currently expecting her second child.)

Along with the above-mentioned “barriers” to healthy living, add to the mix feelings of extreme exhaustion, nausea, headaches and body aches and pains from carrying the extra weight. Not only is the body going through many physical changes, but the mental and spiritual ups and downs are enormous challenges as well.

Is exercise safe during pregnancy?
Many people wonder whether physical activity is safe during pregnancy. The answer is yes; however, it is important to get medical clearance from your doctor. The type of exercise must also be tailored to the specific situation. Exercises during the first, second and third trimester must be modified to how your body feels. Listen to your body and use pain as your guide. If the exercise causes any discomfort, choose a simpler version, decrease the resistance, decrease the number of repetitions or take longer breaks between exercises. Remember, your job during pregnancy is to maintain your health status, not break any fitness records!

Medical experts agree that exercise plays an important role in promoting optimal wellness for pregnant women. Women who exercise during pregnancy have reduced weight gain, more rapid weight loss after pregnancy, improved attitude and mood and improved sleep patterns. Some studies have also shown faster labors and a lessened likelihood of induced labor.

When it comes to exercise during pregnancy, many women choose to continue with their normal lifestyle since the body is already going through many changes. If you exercise regularly, continue to do so. If you’ve never worked out before, now is not the time to begin.

The choice is yours; however, if you decide to exercise, here are some basic rules that need to be followed:

  • Never exercise to the point of exhaustion or breathlessness.

  • Take frequent breaks and drink plenty of fluids during exercise.

  • Avoid exercise in extremely hot weather.

  • Choose exercises that put less strain on your joints. During pregnancy, your body releases a hormone called relaxin to allow your pelvis to make room for childbirth. This hormone causes your joints to be more lax and, therefore, puts you at greater risk of injury.

  • During the second and third trimesters, avoid exercise that involves laying flat on your back as this decreases blood flow to your womb.
  • Home exercise program
    In the spirit of understanding the barriers to exercise for pregnant women, I have attached a safe and effective home exercise program for you to follow throughout your pregnancy.

    As mentioned earlier, prior to engaging in any exercise routine, it is imperative to get clearance from a medical doctor.

    Finally, to avoid injury and muscle soreness, it is important to warm up and stretch before and after all exercise.

    Exercise Sets Reps Rest Interval
    Modified pushup 2-3 20-30 45-60 seconds
    Shoulder raises 2-3 20-30 45-60 seconds
    Biceps curls 2-3 20-30 30-45 seconds
    Triceps kickbacks 2-3 20-30 30-45 seconds
    One-arm rows 2-3 20-30 30-45 seconds
    Body squats 2-3 20-30 45-60 seconds
    Modified deadlift 2-3 20-30 45 seconds
    Oblique side bends 2-3 20-30 30 seconds