Stay strong and healthy with six prenatal exercises you can do indoors.
When the weather is warm and the sun is shining, it’s easy to head outdoors for exercise. But in the dead of winter, when the elements aren’t as cooperative, working out can be a challenge, especially if you’re not a gym person. We’ve got the answer: a workout you can do in the comfort of your own home. > Created by Elizabeth Trindade, president of Strollercise Inc. in New York, this routine is based on her Preparing to Push prenatal workout program. The exercises will help you stay strong now and regain your shape faster after giving birth. > For best results, do the workout every other day, in addition to 20 minutes or more of cardiovascular activity at least three days a week (see “Cold-Weather Cardio”). But check with your doctor before starting any exercise program. As Trindade says: “A healthy mother and a healthy baby are most important.”
1. Cat’s Cradle Kneeling in front of your couch, place your elbows on the seat, palms together. Inhale, dropping your shoulders and lengthening your back; push your tailbone behind you [A]. Exhale and round your spine, drawing your belly in and up [B]. Repeat 8 times. Relieves back stress, helps prevent diastasis, strengthens the abdominals and eases the pressure of the baby on your pelvis.
2. Couch Get-Up Sit at the edge of the couch with your feet flat on the floor and your legs separated wide enough to accommodate your belly. Lean back so that your upper back is supported by the back of the couch [A]. Use your abs to sit up erect; then, without using your hands, use your legs to stand up into a squat [B]. Sit and return to starting position. Repeat 8 times. Strengthens legs, hips, buttocks, abs and back.
3. Pillow Port de Bras Stand tall with your feet separated about hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Hold a pillow in front of your chest with both hands [A]. Extend both of your arms to the left, then up and overhead, making an arc like a rainbow [B]. Bring your arms down to your right side, then back in front of your chest. Repeat, moving in the opposite direction. Complete 9 reps (one arc in each direction equals one rep). Strengthens back and shoulder muscles and stretches chest.
4. Prenatal Picnic Sit on the floor with knees bent, pointing to the right. Place your left hand on top of your left ankle, right hand on right knee. Tilt your head down toward your legs. Hold this stretch for 30–60 seconds; slowly exhale to deepen into each stretch. Switch legs and repeat, completing 9 reps (a stretch to both sides is one rep). Stretches entire back and sides of torso.
5. Expression Stand with your legs slightly wider than hip-width apart, feet and knees turned out comfortably, hands on your belly [A]. Bend your knees, lowering your hips toward the floor. Reach your fingertips toward the floor, keeping your back straight [B]. Straighten legs and return to starting position. Repeat 8 times. Strengthens hips, thighs and buttocks.
6. Cleo’s Lift Lie on the couch on your left side with your left arm bent and your head resting on it. Bend your left knee. Lower the toes of your right foot to the floor, keeping leg straight [A]. Hold and stretch for 15 seconds, then lift leg to a 45-degree angle [B]. Return to starting position; complete 9 reps before switching sides. Helps ease sciatica, stretches hip rotators and strengthens hips and upper buttocks.