Raise your hand if your mood swings have seemed as unpredictable as the stock market throughout your pregnancy. (And if you didn’t put your hand in the air, we bet your partner would raise his for you!)
It can be hard enough for anyone to find the motivation to exercise when they’re not in a good mood, let alone when you’re exhausted and lugging extra pounds around on your frame. We talked to industry experts to help you find the best workout for the mood you’re in right now so you can start feeling those post-workout endorphins as soon as possible.
Quick, picture a place where you feel calm and happy. A beach? The mountains?
Most people pick someplace outdoors, even though they spend the great majority of their days inside buildings. Many of them even exercise indoors!
But evidence is mounting that being outside, and especially exercising in a natural environment, improves mental and physical health, says Daphne Miller, M.D., a clinical assistant professor of family and community medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.
When it's winter, you have two pregnancy workout options: bundle up to brave the elements, or head indoors. Felice Devine, an avid runner in North Greenbush, N.Y., chose the first option. “I had to prepare more for my pregnant runs, but it was so worth it,” says Devine, who wore a headlamp in the dark and Yaktrax in the snow, and always carried her cellphone.
Between childbirth classes, doctor’s appointments, shopping for baby gear and—oh yeah—a job and other regular life stuff, what mom-to-be has time to exercise? Actually, you do. “Thirty minutes is all you need for an effective workout,” says Susan Hoffman, a trainer and prenatal fitness specialist at Boca Raton Life Time Athletic Club in Boca Raton, Fla.
That ruffled swim cap can stay in grandma’s closet because this water exercise program is anything but old-fashioned. “This is for a person who wants a more challenging aqua workout,” says trainer and fitness educator Sara Kooperman, who developed her nationally known Water in Motion program that incorporates yoga, Pilates and dance moves after she injured her back in a skiing accident.
A tense neck, sore back, twinges in your hips, throbbing feet—when you’re pregnant, aches and pains are just part of the deal, right? Not necessarily. “These problems may be the norm in our population today, but that wasn’t always the case,” says Katy Bowman, M.S., a biomechanist in Ventura, Calif., and creator of the Aligned and Well DVD series. “Pregnant women today suffer more than they did 100 years ago.”
Walking is the one workout that suits pregnant women of all different fitness levels. It’s as gentle or as challenging as you need it to be. It requires no investment (all you really need is a good pair of shoes and a water bottle). Plus, you can do it nearly anywhere, anytime. Excuses like “I hate the gym” or “I’ve never exercised before” just won’t fly.
As a mom-to-be, you have some experience carrying around extra weight. Your expanding baby bump is proof of that. But you’ll soon be faced with the daily task of toting your growing newborn—and all her gear. To help prepare your body for the constant lifting and holding to come, now is the time to strengthen the muscles you’ll use most as a new mom.
Prenatal exercise doesn’t have to be grueling, complicated or boring. We rounded up our favorite workouts to help you stay active and get ready for baby. Plus, find out which foods pack the most essential nutrients (including recipes!) and which ones to avoid.