Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Exercise During Pregnancy

Yesterday, Terry and I headed outside to enjoy the beautiful weather and get some exercise. Sadly, the wind picked up and we were freezing almost the entire time, but at least the exercise part worked.

Sort of. 

I wanted to try jogging again in short intervals, but, unfortunately, it didn't exactly happen that way. We jogged for maybe 3-4 minutes when I decided my body just didn't feel right. I couldn't specify a particular pain or symptom, but something was off. Granted, it could just be that I'm out of jogging shape (my runs have become progressively less frequent), but this isn't exactly the ideal time to get back in shape for it. 

The bummer is that I really love jogging, and even jogging a month ago felt fantastic. After a solid warm up (usually at least 10 minutes of walking and light jogging before I worked up to around 5.5 or 6 mph), my body just dove into the rhythm and felt great. It's possible that I just had an off day yesterday, but I'm aware that my running days might be on hold until summer.

Meanwhile, I thought I'd share the exercises I have enjoyed lately, including some online (free!) resources.

A few notes:
  • I'm currently 25 weeks pregnant.
  • Before pregnancy, my activity level was moderate to rigorous exercise, 45 to 60 minutes per day, five days per week, including strength training, cardio, HIIT, and yoga.
  • My doctor is well aware of my current activities and approves. If you're pregnant, you should check with your doctor before making any changes to your exercise program.
  • I really focus on and listen to my body when I exercise (as illustrated above with jogging). If something doesn't feel right, I stop. I recommend the same to anyone who is pregnant, as pregnancy is NOT the time to push yourself too hard.
So on to my favorite pregnancy exercises!

Walking and Hiking
While jogging isn't currently working out, walking has been consistent and wonderful throughout pregnancy. It allows me time outside in the fresh air (sorry if you're somewhere cold), time to catch up with my husband (Terry has been awesome about walking with me whenever possible), an opportunity to get my heart rate up safely, and a chance to get all that blood circulating. 

Strength Training
My doctor requested that I limit my weights to 5 or 10 pounds, but I've had no problem sticking to those weights or even bodyweight. Here are a few strength workouts I've done in the last few months:
Actually, yoga has been on the back burner during pregnancy. Much as I love it, I haven't found an in-person prenatal class I can attend regularly, so I'm resorting to online videos. And just now I'm finally getting around to actually giving the online videos a chance...and they're actually really great! Here are a few I've tried (I may or may not have created a spreadsheet so I can keep track of the ones I like, how long they are, and what they focus on, so I can decide in the moment which one I want to do):
  • Alleviating Back Pain (Prenatal Yoga Center) - This one has been fantastic for me and really does release some of the tension in my lower back. (16 minutes)
  • Helpful Hip Openers (Prenatal Yoga Center) - My hips were already tight before pregnancy hit, so this one feels even more necessary. Plus, hip openers also alleviate back pain. (20 minutes)
  • Prenatal Yoga Flow (Do Yoga with Me) - Honestly, this one isn't for me, but I can imagine its benefits for anyone who might need extra relaxation. It's VERY mellow, slow, quiet, and peaceful. (60 minutes)
  • Pregnancy Yoga 1-5 (Body Talk Daily) - My favorite so far! This link goes to the first video, but the site has multiple 10-minute prenatal yoga videos, each with a different emphasis. Today I did the second video, which is a standing flow that emphasizes leg strength, and I loved it. I especially love that Katy Appleton stresses the importance of transitioning out of and into poses slowly and safely. Plus, she's British, and if you've never done yoga with a British teacher, I can't tell you how much better it is. :-) (10 minutes each)
Stretching and Labor Exercises
I could be much better about these, and since Terry and I will start our birth class this weekend, I imagine we'll get homework to practice, but the few attempts I've made have felt great. I especially love cat-cow stretches, pelvic tilts, and sitting cross-legged on the floor (simple but effective). Beyond that, I'm just stretching in whatever way feels good to keep my muscles active and limber throughout the next few months.

Overall, I'm just thrilled that I have a good amount of energy to keep up some activity throughout this time. I'm learning to be patient with myself as my abilities change almost weekly, and I have grown more in-tune with my body and what feels good and what doesn't as far as exercise. I hope (and think) it will all pay off, either in labor or in getting back to "normal" after baby is here, but for now it just feels really good to stay active. 

Any favorite prenatal exercises you recommend?

Have you ever had to make a major shift in your activity level? The only other time I can think of is when I was in recovery from my foot surgery, but I'd say that was way worse!


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