Big Strides

Walking was voted the No. 1 exercise by pregnant women. Here's an easy workout you can do anywhere.


What do pregnant women want? To get out and walk! How do we know? In our August/ September issue, we asked our readers what type of exercise they did while pregnant. More than 3,000 women responded, citing walking as the exercise of choice, with strength training a strong runner-up.

This is good news, since experts now recommend that moms-to-be without medical complications aim to do 30 minutes or more of moderate physical activity on all or most days of the week.

So if you love to walk—or want to start walking now to stay in shape during pregnancy—see our program below. It was designed by physical therapist Carl Petersen and exercise physiologist Renee Minges Jeffreys of Fit to Deliver, a prenatal workout program. If you can, combine walking with strength moves.

Every workout should begin with a seven- to 10-minute warm-up (leg swings front and back and side to side, some easy side shuffles). Finish with a seven- to 10-minute cool-down and stretching. Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds at the point of tension, not pain. Respect your prepregnancy flexibility and only stretch up to that point.

Walking Workout

1st Trimester

2nd trimester 3rd trimester Beginner:

Be sure to listen to your body. It’s not how much exercise you do—but how consistently you do it—that counts. You were a non-exerciser or were new to exercise prior to your pregnancy. Start by walking at an easy pace for up to 30 minutes, 3 times per week. Make sure you include a day of rest in between. Begin to increase the intensity of your walk, picking up the pace and power walking for 30 minutes or longer. Do this up to 5 times per week. Aim to power walk for the length of time you could in your second trimester, but stick to flat terrain. Try to walk as many times per week as you did in the second trimester. If you can’t, try swimming or recumbent cycling. Intermediate:

Remember to stay

hydrated. Drink

before, during and after exercise.

You were power walking consistently for at least 3 months prior to pregnancy for 45 minutes or more, 3–4 times per week. Continue this routine, making sure to include days of rest. If everything went well in your first trimester, continue at the same pace and/or increase the frequency to 5 or more times per week. You may exercise for as long as you are comfortable at each exercise session, up to an hour. Decrease your pace if you feel tired.

Continue your second-trimester routine if you are still comfortable, but stick to flat terrain. If you need to decrease your mileage, try working out in a pool to maintain your fitness level.


Don’t worry if you feel as if you’re cutting back on exercise—the intensity

is actually greater because you’re working out for two.

You were power walking consistently for 6 months or more prior to pregnancy for at least 1 hour, 4–5 times per week. You can continue to do this routine, but don’t overexert yourself. If everything went well in your first trimester and you’re feeling up to it, continue at the same pace or increase your workouts to 5–6 times per week. Decrease your pace, time or frequency if you feel tired. Continue your second-trimester routine if you are still comfortable, but stick to flat terrain. Decrease your frequency or duration of exercise if you need to. Also try pool workouts or recumbent cycling to maintain your fitness level.

Get Strong & Stay That Way:

For all-around fitness, aim to do these four strength moves on the days that you do our walking workout. For each exercise, do 2–3 sets of 12–15 repetitions, resting 30–60 seconds between sets.

1. STANDING PUSH-UPS Face a vertical support, feet hip-width apart, and place your hands on the support slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, arms straight. Contract abs and press your hips forward so your body forms a straight line from head to heels. Bend your elbows and lean your chest toward the support until your elbows are in line with your shoulders. Push back to starting position and repeat. Strengthens chest, front shoulders and triceps.

2. CAT BACKS Kneel on the ground on all fours with your wrists just in front of your shoulders and knees in line with your hips. Inhale, lifting up head and tailbone. Exhale, let your head relax and use your abs to round your spine up like a cat, as if pulling your navel in to touch your spine. Repeat for reps in a rhythmic pattern. Strengthens abs and back.

3. BACK PRESS Lean your entire back and buttocks against a wall with your feet about 6 inches

in front of it, knees slightly bent and arms crossed

in front of your chest. Use your abs to pull your navel toward your spine and tilt the bottom of your pelvis upward; hold for 20 seconds. Contract your abs for the entire 20 seconds, continuing to breathe throughout the hold. Release and repeat. Strengthens abs.

4. TRI-DIPS Sit on the edge of a bench or low wall, knees bent to 90 degrees, feet flat on the ground. Place your hands on the edge of the seat close to your buttocks, arms straight. Lift your buttocks off the bench or low wall and, without changing feet position, lower your torso until elbows are in line with shoulders. Straighten arms without locking and repeat. Strengthens triceps.