Staying Fit and Safe While Pregnant


Exercising while pregnant can be a daunting task. You want to stay healthy for you and your baby, but you might not be sure where to start. Completing 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise everyday can be great for both you and baby. Aerobic training can improve your current fitness level, muscle strength, body image, and energy level. Everyone responds differently to exercise. Your body’s response to exercise can depend on your age, body size, and type of exercise, body position, exercise intensity, frequency, environment, health, and nutritional status. Always consult with your physician beginning a new exercise program. If you are new to exercise, start slow. Walking for 10 minutes can be a great place to start. You can then slowly increase your duration until you are walking for 30 minutes a day.  Strength training is also important to help your body deal with the weight gain and change in your center of gravity. Here are a couple of strength exercises that are safe during pregnancy. These can help improve the strength in your core, glutes, and upper back, all areas that are weakened by the typical pregnant posture.

1st trimester:

Planks: Lie on your stomach with your elbows parallel below your shoulder. Engage your abdominals and lift your hips to enter a plank position. Tuck your pelvis under and hollow your belly slightly. Squeeze your shoulders down and back, tuck your chin, and squeeze your glutes. Ideally, you will have a straight line from the back of your head to your sacrum (tail bone). Now focus on the action of blowing out candles or saying “SHHHHHH”. You should feel your deepest abdominals engage. Hold for 30 seconds.
Perform: 3 sets of 10 repetitions
 Bridges: Lie on your back, keep entire back flat on the floor with knees bent at 90 degrees. Feet should be flat on the ground with weight through the heels. Push through the heels and bring glutes off the floor into a bridge. Hold for 3 seconds at the top of the motion.
Perform: 3 sets of 10 repetitions

 2nd trimester:

 Bird dogs: Begin on your hands and knees.  Squeeze your glutes, draw your stomach in, pull your shoulder blades down toward your glutes, and keep head in line with spine.  Your back should be straight and should not bend throughout the exercise. Holding the position, lift the right arm and left leg so that each is straight and hold for 3 seconds. Then perform with the left arm and right leg.
Perform: 3 sets of 10 repetitions
 Inner thigh Squats: Place feet shoulder width apart with your toes pointed out at a 45-degree angle. Weight should be placed through your heels. As you begin to squat, bring your hips back like you are sitting in a chair that is too far behind you. While squatting, try to move your knees out. Go as low as you can, then push back up through your heels. Repeat. Repeat exercise with weight through the balls of your feet.
Perform: 3 sets of 10 repetitions

 3rd trimester:

Clams: Lie on your side with hips and knees stacked. Bend both knees and keep your heels together. Open your knees like a clam and hold for 5 seconds. Close slowly. Don’t roll backwards through the pelvis. Keep your heels together. For an advanced version of this exercises, add a resistance band just above your knees.
Perform: 3 sets of 10 repetitions
 Scapular Rows: Standing with your feet hips width distance apart and a soft bend in your knees. Start with your arms straight out in front of you. As you bend your elbows to 90 degrees, bring your elbows in by your body and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Slowly return to the starting position. You can increase the intensity by holding one end of an anchored theraband in each hand.
Perform: 3 sets of 10 repetitions


Stephenson RG. Physical Therapy in Obstetrics: An independent Home Study Course for Individual Continuing Education. APTA: Section on Women’s Health. 2007