Physical Exercise for Pregnant Women: Good Exercises during Pregnancy

31 July, 2020
Unless contraindicated by a doctor, physical exercise for pregnant women has numerous benefits for pregnancy and childbirth. In this article, we share some techniques and tips that you should know.
 

Pregnancy isn’t a rest period, unless a doctor indicates it. If it’s a safe pregnancy, you must stay active to fight excess weight and facilitate delivery. However, it’s essential to choose the right physical exercise for pregnant women.

Also, keep in mind that if you practice sports regularly, this habit will also help you recover after childbirth. These are all advantages, which is why we decided to share the best exercises you can do during pregnancy.

Before you start

The intensity

Pregnant women exercising.
We recommend going to specific classes for pregnant women or doing moderate physical exercise.

The intensity of the exercise will always depend on your doctor’s indications. However, how much you exercised before becoming pregnant is also very important.

In general, experts recommend a moderate intensity. For example, exercises that allow you to breathe or speak comfortably. For example, you could do half-hour sessions, four times a week.

 

Warm-up and stretching in physical exercise for pregnant women

You should never start exercising before warming up, especially during pregnancy. Remember that your body is changing in terms of weight and shape. Therefore, the first step in physical exercise for pregnant women is stretching gently.

Once you finish stretching, never start the exercise abruptly. Always do it gradually, allowing your muscles to warm up. If you tend to suffer from cramps or have a tendency to injury, you must be very careful. A good option is water gymnastics.

Other tips

  • Firstly, drink plenty of water or natural beverages while you’re exercising.
  • Always let your instructor know that you’re pregnant. Likewise, a good option is to do activities specifically aimed at pregnant women.
  • Avoid sports that involve the risk of falling, or do them with caution.

When you lack motivation (as exercise will take a lot more effort than before) don’t forget its benefits. In fact, it could help improve some common pregnancy discomforts, such as constipation, foot swelling, or nerves.

 

You should also read: Exercise and Pregnancy: Things to Consider

Physical exercise for pregnant women

1. Pelvic floor exercises

A pregnant woman with an exercise ball.
Pelvic floor exercises allow you to better control your contractions during labor.

The pelvic floor is a set of muscles and ligaments that close the abdominal cavity at the bottom. Exercising it is extremely important to compensate for the weight gain that this part of the body has to support, and that will play a huge role during childbirth. Also, it helps fight urinary incontinence.

  • You can do this exercise lying down, standing, or sitting. You can even do it sitting on a Pilates ball or fitball!
  • First of all, inhale. When you exhale, exert force as if you were squeezing your anus and vagina, as if you were holding back. Try to hold for 10 seconds.
  • Exhale and relax, becoming aware of your relaxed pelvic floor.
 
  • Do three sets of eight repetitions throughout the day. In addition, you can do them discreetly at any time.

2. Physical exercise for pregnant women: Exercise to relax your lower back

  • Firstly, position yourself on all fours, with your hands on the ground at shoulder height and your knees at hip level. Your back should be straight. In yoga, this is known as the cat pose.
  • Inhale and, as you slowly exhale, stick your abdomen in and arch your back like a cat. Hold the position for a few seconds while you finish exhaling.
  • Move your head towards your chest. You must feel this exercise in every vertebra, since you want to give your back mobility and, thus, relax all the pressure your lower back supports.
  • When you inhale, go back to the starting position, remembering not to stick your belly out but to remain in a neutral position.
  • Do 10 repetitions, at least twice a day.
  • When you finish, sit on your ankles and stretch your arms forward on the floor to rest.

This article may also interest you: Pilates During Pregnancy: Is it a Good Idea?

 

3. Pelvis, abdomen, and lower back exercise

A pregnant woman with back pain.
Lower back exercises reduce the back discomfort characteristic of pregnancy.
  • Firstly, support your back against the wall and bend your knees a little.
  • Then, imagine that you want to tuck in your navel until it touches the wall. You’ll see how your pelvis makes a movement to elevate your pubic area as you exhale.
  • Stay like this for about five seconds and breathe out all the air.
  • After that, return to the starting position while you inhale.
  • Repeat 10 times, twice a day.

In short, these exercises are both simple and relaxing. Physical exercise for pregnant women should combine moderate-intensity sports with these techniques, as they’ll help prepare your body for childbirth.

 
  • Knowlton, J. R., Hanson, J., & May, L. (2014). Poster 23 Exercise Prescription for Improved Heart Rate Variability during Pregnancy. PM&R. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmrj.2014.08.422
  • Bala, K. (2012). Pregnancy & yoga. Midwifery Today with International Midwife.
  • S., B., & J., S. (2016). Yoga in pregnancy. Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology. https://doi.org/10.1097/GRF.0000000000000210
  • Price, N., Dawood, R., & Jackson, S. R. (2010). Pelvic floor exercise for urinary incontinence: A systematic literature review. Maturitas. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.maturitas.2010.08.004