Many expectant moms today have a problem getting to prenatal exercise classes and even though this is always first prize, we have put together a few exercises that you can do at your desk during lunchtime or whenever you have 15 minutes to spare.
Try and get your circulation going by walking as much as you can. Stretching your muscles during pregnancy feels fantastic and improves your posture, as well as reduce the many discomforts of pregnancy.
Light, limbering movements done after a “workout” moves toxins out of the muscles into the blood stream and out of your body. Be sure to drink a glass of water or two after your session.
Upper body strengthening
Purpose - strengthening the muscles of the arms, chest, upper back and shoulders.
Strong arms and shoulders will help with all the work of carrying your baby, breastfeeding as well as hauling around baby goods.
A strong upper back will ease postural complaints and enhance good posture. Arms usually get a great workout when you are working upper back and chest and you do not always have to do a separate arm exercise.
This exercise is a wonderful all round upper body conditioner. As your pregnancy progresses, push-ups may become more difficult. In the first half of pregnancy you can do them without restriction, as long as you follow these guidelines:
- Get onto all fours, with your fingers pointing slightly inward. Your arms should extend in a straight line down from your shoulders.
- Take your knees slightly back from under your hips. Your back should be straight – no sagging in the middle.
- Pull your midsection in as tight as you can and keep your hips up.
- Inhale as you lower your chest towards the floor, exhale as you press up.
- Do 8 then rest before repeating a second time.
As you move into your third trimester you may find this difficult to do. Modify this exercise by doing a standing push up, against the wall. If push-ups make you dizzy or hurt your back, stop doing them.
- Sit on the edge of a heavy chair with your feet placed hip width apart.
- Grip the sides of the chair with your hands and slowly raise your buttocks off the chair.
- Move your buttocks forward away from the chair inhale and then as you slowly exhale, drop your buttocks towards the floor. Don’t drop too far as you may struggle to push yourself back.
- Once your arms are bent half way, pause and then push back to start position.
Do this 8 times before resting and shaking out your wrists. Do not do this exercise if you have carpal tunnel (extreme discomfort and pain in the wrists). Do 2 or 3 sets of 8 repetitions.
Lower body strengthening
Purpose - strengthening of the muscles of the legs, hips, buttocks. Having strong legs and buttocks will put less strain on your back and assist with correct lifting and bending.
Full range calf raises – those that require you to lift your heels off the floor, may cause cramps. Try these partial raises instead.
- Use a chair, a wall or a banister for support. Place the balls of your feet on a large book or better still place the balls of your foot on the edge of a step and let you heels hang over.
- Lower your heels towards the ground, stretching out the calf muscles, and inhale.
- Flex your calves, lifting up to the horizontal position and exhale. Slowly do 2 sets of 8 reps.
- Stand beside a sturdy chair. Hold onto the back of the chair for balance. Stand with your feet parallel hip width apart. Then place one foot in front of the other at a distance that is comfortable. If you are just beginning keep the distance small.
- Inhale and bend the front knee to the point where the knee is directly over the ankle. This will bring your torso forward and down.
- Let the back heel lift off the floor. Do not bend the front leg more than 90º at the knee.
- Exhale and push your weight back and up to starting position.
- Repeat 8 to 12 times. Turn around and do the same on the other leg.
This exercise is fantastic for strengthening the legs and the buttocks.
Go to page 2 to find out how to work your abdominals and incorporate some general stretching into your routine