Exercise is not only possible during pregnancy, it’s important. If you were very active before becoming pregnant, you may find that some of the changes to your body make exercising at your previous level difficult. But you may also surprise yourself with what you can do.
But even if you weren’t the most active beforehand, starting to get out and move around can be beneficial. It can reduce the risk of conditions like gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia. Not to mention, it increases your endorphins, and who couldn’t use some spare endorphins every now and then?
It’s important to talk to your care team before beginning strenuous exercise, and some pregnancy complications may make a certain level of activity inadvisable or dangerous. But for the vast majority of pregnancies, exercise can help!
It’s more important than ever to take care of yourself. Even with the COVID-19 pandemic, you need sunshine, fresh air, and exercise to stay physically and emotionally healthy during your pregnancy. Here are some low-impact exercises that can be done in a socially-distanced way.
Going out for a walk is a great way to clear your head, get some exercise, and get much needed alone time. Finding time to be with your thoughts can be difficult during pregnancy, especially if you already have kids. But checking in with yourself and re-centering is important.
We suggest taking a stroll around your neighborhood, especially if your streets aren’t too crowded right now. (Be sure to wear a mask and keep a safe distance from the people you pass.)
Yoga has a wide range of health benefits, no matter who you are! It helps with flexibility, strength, and breathing. During pregnancy, it can increase the strength and flexibility of the muscles needed for childbirth. It can reduce stress and increase your sense of well-being.
The types of yoga that are most recommended during pregnancy are prenatal yoga, hatha yoga, and restorative yoga. During the current COVID-19 pandemic, gathering in groups for classes isn’t recommended. Outdoor, appropriately-distanced classes are safer than indoors, but online classes are the safest of all.
Swimming is a great way to keep cool in the summertime, and it’s also a great way to feel like you’re more in control of your changing body. The weightlessness of water lets you exert yourself more with less impact on your joints. It gives you a full-body workout and great cardio, without wear and tear on your knees and feet.
While some people have safety concerns about chlorine, most of the research out there suggests that there’s not really any danger in swimming while pregnant. Meanwhile, the benefits are powerful and well-documented. The one real downside for swimming is the accessibility of pools right now.
Paddling is a great way to get out and enjoy nature. It’s a low-impact workout. It lets you get cardio in without having to stand up. It keeps you on and around the water, so keeping cool is just a splash or two away. To top it all off, you’re surrounded by a big boat that will keep other people a safe distance away!
You may also find that your newly-lowered center of gravity makes it easier to stay stable when paddling. On top of that, paddling doesn’t just use your arms. Your legs and your core muscles are a key part of keeping a kayak or canoe stable. And strengthening your core is a great way to help prevent diastasis recti.
Schedule Your Workouts Well
Depending on where you live, it may be to safely exercise in the middle of the day. Consider an early-morning or a dusk workout to avoid the worst of the direct sunlight and the heat that comes with it.
Drinking water is one of the best things you can do for yourself, regardless of your activity level or the weather. But when you’re losing moisture to sweat, it becomes even more important. Drink plenty of water and remember that by the time you start actually feeling thirsty, you’re already in the early stages of dehydration.
Getting enough water helps people have clearer skin, reduced risk of constipation, and all sorts of other health benefits. There are significant benefits of staying hydrated during pregnancy specifically, including a lower risk of pre-term labor.
Okay, sunscreen may not make you feel cooler, but it’s very important for anyone going out in the sun. The risk of skin cancer is too great to not take seriously. Consider a mineral-based sunscreen instead of a chemical-based one, and look for an SPF of at least 30.
Wear cool clothing
Wear light, breathable clothing when you go outside. Many outdoor outfitters make clothing made for spending time in the sun. This includes breathable fabrics that offer sun protection and moisture-wicking to pull sweat away from your body. This helps you stay cool, and reduces the stickiness and chafing that come with a sweat-drenched outfit.
Your intimates can keep you cool, as well. One great example is the Don’t Sweat It bra liner. This moisture-wicking band helps absorb and dissipate under-boob sweat. It fits smoothly under your bra, and the soft, comfortable cloth moves with your body. Regardless of your body shape or level of activity, it can help you stay dry and comfortable.
Jenny Hart is a health and wellness writer with a passion for travel, cycling, and books. Her focus is on topics related to women's health and the effects of aging and she is interested in research that can help women feel and age better. When she isn't writing or traveling, she's traversing NYC with her two dogs Poochie and Ramone.