- You may be less prone to suffering from common pregnancy discomforts such as swelling, nausea, fatigue, leg cramps, backache, varicose veins and shortness of breath.
- Your labor may be shorter. In one study, active labor was 30 percent shorter on average for women who exercised than for those who were sedentary.
- Your risk of a forceps or Cesarean delivery may be considerably lower.
- You could be less prone to mood swings and more happy with your body.
- Your overall stamina and pain endurance during labor may be higher.
Although there are clearly many reasons to remain fit during your nine months, it isn’t always easy to fit exercise in between all those prenatal doctor appointments, baby-room preparations, reorganization of your work schedule, childbirth classes, etc. That’s why Mia Finnegan, owner of The Fitness House, a personal-training studio in Portsmouth, R.I., designed the following strength and stretching exercises to do in the comfort of your own living room.
One of the obvious advantages of doing a home workout is its ultra-convenience — you just pull on a pair of ragged old sweats, put some good music on and get started. Of course, you’ll still want to get out for some good cardio workouts — see “Winter Aerobics”.
Mia Finnegan, a Fitness World champion and owner of The Fitness House, a Portsmouth, R.I., personal-training studio, had her first baby this fall. She developed this total-body, multimuscle workout to stay in shape during her own pregnancy. With these six moves, you can work your entire body in about 20 minutes. Not only are they a great accompaniment to your current aerobic workout, but if you’re already lifting weights at the gym, you can use them when you want to exercise but don’t feel like leaving the house.
Do the following exercises in the order listed.
1. chair crunches
Sit erect in a chair with your hips all the way back on the seat. Place your feet flat on the floor, knees bent, with both hands on your abdomen. Inhale deeply, expanding your belly into your hands; exhale as you contract your abs. Your hips and legs shouldn’t move. Return to starting position and repeat. Do 2 sets of 15–20 reps, resting 20 seconds between sets; no weight required. Strengthens abdominals.
2. push-ups Kneel on all fours with your knees behind your hips and hands under your shoulders, arms straight and fingers pointing straight ahead, hands and knees hip-width apart. Tighten your abs to help keep your belly from dropping. Bend your elbows, lowering your body toward the floor as far as possible. Push up to starting position and repeat. Do 2 sets of 8–20 reps, resting 20 seconds between sets; no weight required. Modification: As your belly grows, do the same exercise standing against a wall. Strengthens chest, front shoulders and triceps.