pregnant woman exercisingAny doctor will tell you that exercising during pregnancy is a good thing as it makes it more comfortable and your body stronger. But you cannot follow your regular workout plan when pregnant as your body will have several changes. In order to keep up with them, it is best to modify your regime with each trimester. Fitness expert Mamtaa Joshi lists out safe exercises during different stages of pregnancy.

First trimester exercises

Working out during the first trimester presents some challenges – you’re overly tired, unpredictably nauseous, and scared that each move you make will harm the baby. Working out during the first trimester can help increase your energy and minimise many of the discomforting signs during the first stages of pregnancy.

Begin workouts with a warm-up as it will make you ready for your workout and get your muscles ready to work. You can do cardio workout like walking on the treadmill on slow speed or go for a walk outdoors. You can also do light weight training but take rest between the workout and keep yourself hydrated by drinking water. Consult your doctor in case of any discomfort. (Read: The most comprehensive guide to first trimester dos and don’ts you’ll ever need!)

Second trimester exercises

Working out during the second trimester of pregnancy generally feels great! After battling nausea and fatigue during the first trimester, most women feel a surge of energy, stability, and overall fitness – you need to make the most of this energising phase of pregnancy. 

Even though you may feel a burst of energy during this stage of pregnancy, it’s still important to warm up before breaking a sweat. Here are a few exercises you can opt for.

Side raise: Lie on your left side on the floor, with your hips and knees bent at 45 degrees. Keeping your feet in contact with each other, raise your right knee as high as you can without moving your pelvis. Pause, and then return to the starting position. Repeat on other side.

Tummy sucking: Inhale like you have lungs in your stomach. Exhale as you use your abdominal muscles to pull your belly button toward your spine. Hold for 2 or 3 seconds and release. (You should be able to talk while you hold the position.) That’s one rep.

Kegel exercise: Sit comfortably on a chair or bed, squeeze your pelvic floor muscle tightly, and hold for 8 seconds. To feel this muscle, imagine you are trying to stop yourself from peeing. Hold like you have to control peeing.

Sitting cycling:
 Sit on a chair and lift a single leg and do cycling 20 times. Repeat with the other leg.

Squats with a chair: Do simple squats holding a chair so that you cannot lose balance. Hold the back of the chair and your feet apart. Lower yourself by bending the knees while sticking out your bottom and leaning forward at the waist. Squat till your thighs are parallel to the ground and then return to original position. (Read: Second trimester – the most comprehensive guide of dos and don’ts you’ll ever need!)

Third trimester exercises

This phase can be very boring as your body feels heavy and you want to see your baby eagerly. But your body is also tired. This is the time you have to be more energetic because you will need strength for delivery.

There will be so many days during the final weeks of your pregnancy when even shoulder stretches or moving arms and ankle will feel like too much work for your body — and that’s normal. Keep in mind that even a little exercise in the third trimester will help you feel fresh and energetic and do as much as your body allows. 

Butterfly stretch: Sit with your legs outstretched. Bend the right leg and place the right foot as far up on the left thigh as possible. Place the right hand on top of the bent right knee. Hold the toes of the right foot with the left hand. While breathing in, gently move the right knee up towards the chest. Breathing out, gently push the knee down and try to touch the floor. The trunk should not move. Movement of leg should be achieved by the exertion of the right arm. Repeat with left leg. Slowly, practise about 10 up and down movements with each leg. Do not strain your body. 

Sleeping abdominal stretch pose: Lie on your back. Interlock fingers of both hands and place hands beneath the head. Bend knees keeping the soles of your feet on the floor. Move head in other direction, repeat on the other side.

Horizontal cycling: Lying down on the mat or bed, you can air cycle with both the legs. 

Side raises: Lying on your side, lift your leg which is upside. Lift up and down, change the side. Repeat on the other side. (Read: What NOT to do during pregnancy – 10 things to avoid!)

While these are safe exercises that you can do during your pregnancy, you need to keep basic precautions in mind. 

  • Let your doctor know about your workout plan.
  • Don’t lie on your stomach.
  • Wear comfortable clothing.
  • Keep yourself hydrated.
  • Don’t do any jumping exercises.
  • Listen to your body.
  • Do not follow anything which is uncomfortable.
  • Consult the doctor if you feel even a little uncomfortable.

Mamtaa Joshi is a fitness expert and the founder of The Orange Tree Studio – a fitness assessment and consultation salon. She has trained at the renowned Reebok Fitness Academy and conducted various fitness classes at Talwalkars, Expressions Dance Studio as well as the Taj Mahal Hotel, Colaba. She has over 10 years of experience in the field. She firmly believes that to improve your quality of life, you must be fit inside out. She tries to help her clients get over their mental blocks by bringing consistency and discipline in their routine.

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