Video: The Dos and Don’ts of Exercising While Pregnant

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Fitness Expert

Video: The Dos and Don’ts of Exercising While Pregnant


Contrary to popular belief, exercise during pregnancy does not need to be limited to prenatal specific yoga and pilates. While these low impact activities are beneficial, having a solid foundation of strength while expecting helps prevent injury, provide for an easier childbirth, and helps prepare the body for the physical demands of child care.1 Some of the most common strength exercises emulate the everyday activities of new moms.

Squat

Helpful for: getting up from a chair and using the bathroom


  1. Start with feet shoulder-width apart
  2. Keep weight in the middle of your feet and avoid raising toes or heels
  3. Descend into a seated position while driving knees out in line with your middle toe
  4. Maintain a neutral spine while coming down
  5. Keep the knees in line with the toes as you come to a standing position
  6. Try to keep the hips and shoulders level throughout the entire movement

Hip Hinge

Helpful for: picking up your baby and items from the ground


  1. Start with feet shoulder-width apart
  2. Initiate the movement by bending at your hips and pushing them behind you
  3. Maintain a neutral spine as you move towards the ground
  4. Ensure that the shoulder blades are pulled back throughout the movement
  5. Squeeze the glutes and bring the hips forward to a standing position

Row

Helpful for: improving posture and strengthening the back which is crucial to counteract the weight of a growing belly


  1. Start by grabbing both dumbbells and holding them at your side
  2. Hinge your hips back and allow your body to lean towards the floor at a 45 degree angle
  3. Maintain a neutral spine and keep your chest up
  4. Initiate the movement by pinching your shoulder blades together and driving your elbows behind you
  5. Hold for a moment at the top
  6. Lower your arms to the starting position in a controlled manner

Combining these three movements with proper pelvic floor activation and core work will provide a great start to a prenatal workout plan. While most modes of fitness will help smooth the transition to parenthood, there are other activities that may be better left until after your baby is born.

Running and Jumping

Joints get looser during pregnancy due to newly released hormones.2 This type of instability along with some added weight gain can increase the risk of injury.

Hot Yoga

Any type of activity that will significantly increase the body temperature should be avoided to help maintain the fetal temperature.3 It may also increase dehydration.

Crunches and Sit-Ups

While proper core activation is key, these moves specifically will put too much pressure and pull on the abdomen.

Entering an exercise program while pregnant can do wonders for your physical and mental health. During this period, your fitness goals should align less with performance and aesthetics and more with preparing for life postpartum. It's especially important to listen to your body and to find workouts that are safe, effective and enjoyable.

Ryan Reyes is a fitness trainer based in Los Angeles, CA.




  1. ACOG Committee on Obstetric Practice. (2020). Committee opinion# 804: exercise during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Obstetrics & Gynecology

  2. Marnach, M. L., Ramin, K. D., Ramsey, P. S., Song, S. W., Stensland, J. J., & An, K. N. (2003). Characterization of the relationship between joint laxity and maternal hormones in pregnancy. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 101(2), 331-335.

  3. Chan, J., Natekar, A., & Koren, G. (2014). Hot yoga and pregnancy: fitness and hyperthermia. Canadian Family Physician, 60(1), 41.