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It’s one of life’s little ironies: The more active you are, the more relaxed you feel. Pregnancy is no exception. While you may want to lounge on the couch when you’re not working, running errands or socializing, you’ll probably feel more energetic if you exercise. It’s also been well proven that working out can help keep your body strong and lessen your risk for complications during delivery—and may even help you have an easier birth. To help you relax and stay in shape, Fit Pregnancy’s fitness editor, Linda Shelton, teamed up with fitness pro Kathy Stevens to develop this program, which includes stretches you can do at home as well as de-stressing exercises for work (with your doctor’s OK, of course). First, we’ll help you wake up with simple morning moves. We’ve also designed stretches to keep stress at bay and relieve aches while you’re at work (even if you don’t work outside the home, these exercises will keep you energized). And we’ve got a walking plan you can do at lunchtime or before or after work. Finally, our yoga postures will help you unwind before bed.
These easy exercises will energize you and prepare you for the day ahead. Do them right after you roll out of bed.
1) spine aligner Stand tall with your back against a wall. Touch the wall with your heels, shoulders and head, then press the back of your neck and lower back as close to the wall as possible. Hold this position for 3 slow breaths (one exhale and inhale equals one breath), then release to a more neutral position with your tailbone pointing down toward the floor. Repeat 3 times.
2) cat Place your hands on a wall, legs hip-width apart. Take a few steps back and lean forward from your hips, keeping your chest lifted and your knees slightly bent. Inhale, then exhale, rounding your back like a cat. Hold for a few seconds, then reverse the motion by inhaling and drawing your chest forward and your shoulder blades back. Repeat 3 times.
These one-minute limbering and stretching exercises can help relieve muscle tension and increase circulation in areas that tend to get stiff during the workday. Try to do each of these moves a few times a day. Also take a break every hour and move around—walk the long way to the water cooler or talk to a co-worker in person rather than using the phone.
3) runner’s stretch Sitting for long periods of time can restrict blood flow to your legs and feet. To improve circulation, stand behind your chair and place your fingertips on the chair back. Place your feet about hip-width apart, left foot forward, with the toes of your left foot pointing forward, close to the chair. Bend your left knee until it’s aligned over your left heel and press your hips forward until you feel a stretch in your right calf. Keep your right heel on the floor. As your calf relaxes, increase the stretch by gently pressing your hips toward the chair. Hold this position for 3–5 breaths; then switch legs to stretch the other calf.