One of the most important things you can do when it comes to prenatal workouts is to be consistent. Working out consistently has shown to create the greatest positive impact on pregnancy (reducing excess weight gain, increasing strength, endurance and balance, improving mood, reducing pregnancy aches and pains, etc). Most of us go into working out with lofty plans (“I’ll work out every morning at 5am before work” or, “Five days a week, no exceptions”), but if the plan isn’t reasonable and moderate, it can be incredibly hard for it to be sustainable.
Ideally, pregnant women should exercise 3-5 times a week for 30+ minutes at a moderate intensity (heart pumping, breathing slightly heavy, but still able to talk through the workout). Depending on your current workout schedule (if you have one) this may seem like a lot, but the good news is it doesn’t need to be done in one shot. You can go on three 10-minute walks, or five 6-minute walks, or even thirty 1-minute walks (ok, ok that’s pushing it, but you catch my drift) and still reap all the benefits of prenatal exercise.
In addition to walking, other forms of exercise that are great during pregnancy are prenatal pilates, prenatal yoga, and prenatal cardio/strength-training workouts, many of which can be found on DVD. One great series that I’ve enjoyed during both pregnancies is called the 10-Minute Solutions: Prenatal Pilates DVD. It’s a series of several 10-minute workouts that can be done alone or strung together in any combination – it truly can fit into any time frame and with every energy level. You can also look into in-person prenatal workouts in your area. It’s fun to be surrounded by other pregnant women and often seeing them weekly is motivation enough to get you working out. Here’s where I teach a prenatal exercise class on Saturday mornings: Montclair B.A.B.Y.
Another option is to hire a prenatal personal trainer. With a personal trainer, you have someone to keep you accountable, and you have an expert prenatal exercise who can guide you, because everything is customized for you! Many prenatal personal trainers now come to your house in person, or through Skype, so it’s never been easier to find this kind of consistent support!
No matter how you choose to exercise, keep in mind that some days you’ll start a workout and realize you just don’t have the energy to do a full routine, and that’s okay too. Only do what you can and what feels good, and always listen to your body.
Finally, if committing to 3-5 times a week isn’t right for you at this time, it doesn’t mean to throw in the towel and do nothing. Ask yourself what you can commit to and be consistent with it, and I promise whatever it will be a step in the right direction.