By Kelly Sheerins and Katharine Steers Cirrinicione
We all know that exercise is the best thing you can give your body, and now, new research shows that it’s also one of the best thing you can do while you’re pregnant, as well.
Researchers from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences found that when an expectant mom exercises during pregnancy, her baby is an active participant in the workout. As mom works out, the baby’s fetal cardiac system grows stronger and healthier as a result. Babies born to active moms were also found to have healthier hearts later on. Being active is heart healthy for mom and baby!
Because this is such great news and yet another reason to lace up those sneakers even when pregnant, we reached out to two renowned fitness experts – both of whom train pregnant women – for tips on how women can exercise effectively and safely, even with baby in “tow.”
Here’s what our experts said:
Katharine Steers Cirrinicione, Core Fusion trainer at Exhale Spa in New York City
First off, with every pregnancy any woman wishing to exercise throughout her pregnancy should always check with her doctor first to get the okay. How a woman should exercise during pregnancy greatly depends on the activities she was doing before. I myself was doing everything [before I got pregnant] … ballet class, Bikram yoga, spinning, running and of course I was taking and teaching Core Fusion classes throughout my pregnancy. I chose to not continue the Bikram yoga due to the high heat, although there are woman who continue throughout their pregnancies. When I was doing any forms of cardio, I always monitored how high my heart rate was getting. I didn’t want it to get too high. I stopped running after my first trimester. Some athletes who are used to running long distances can run longer into their pregnancies. I always tried to drink lots of extra water to make sure I was not getting dehydrated, I ate healthy foods and I always listened to my body. When I was tired, I enjoyed staying in bed all afternoon!
Now I know the average woman may not be so active. What I would encourage is at the very least to start walking. It’s great for circulation and will help keep the weight off. It’s also great for the baby! Other forms of exercise could be swimming and prenatal yoga. These are very safe. I myself loved taking Core Fusion classes at Exhale because it felt like I was really getting a great workout for my whole body … it was challenging and safe. During pregnancy, the tendency is to lose muscle because we are less active. I felt like these classes kept muscle on me!
As far as specific things to do, I would recommend these tips:
- Stay active: Swimming, walking, etc… as long as you can throughout pregnancy.
- Incorporate doing kegel exercises every day and some breathing techniques. Pelvic tilts are great, as well as a cat/cow stretch.
- Belly dancing: It’s a great form of exercise because it makes you move your pelvis all around in circular motion. You want to strengthen the pelvic floor, as well as loosen it, equally. Equal amounts of contracting and releasing the pelvic floor. This can be achieved by these simple exercises I just mentioned.
Overall, any pregnant woman exercising should increase their water intake, monitor their heart rate, and eat plenty of good healthy foods. They should always pay close attention to how they are feeling day to day. Joints are compromised during pregnancy due to the relaxin hormone being released, so it is also important not to push anything – especially in stretching.
Kelly Sheerins, Core Fusion trainer at Exhale Spa in New York City
When most active women become pregnant, they want to remain active throughout their pregnancy in a safe and healthy manner. As a CoreFusion teacher at Exhale, I come across incredibly fit mothers-to-be every single day! It is absolutely amazing to see these women who are 7, 8, even 9 months pregnant dominate the difficult thigh, glute, and upper body strengthening variations. Besides the adorable baby bump, there is no sign of pregnancy in those toned limbs.
Many women are aware that with a doctor’s permission, if you have been a runner your whole life, you can still run throughout the pregnancy. However, if you are not an avid runner, swimmer, biker, what kind of exercises can keep you feeling strong and beautiful while you are pregnant?
CoreFusion is an effective and amazing way to stay in top physical shape for women that are expecting. It targets every part of the body with strengthening, stretching, and toning exercises and of course, works on engaging the core. As the pregnancy develops, there are modifications (such as using a ball behind the back) for the abdominal sections that will allow pregnant women to still work on strengthening without being put in an uncomfortable or unhealthy position.
One guest that I trained at Exhale told me that when she was in the delivery room, the doctor actually commented on how strong her abdominal muscles were! By continually working the legs, arms, glutes, and core, the baby bump will be the only thing getting bigger!
I would also highly recommend yoga. If you have never practiced yoga before, there are prenatal classes designed specifically for women who are expecting. They will help increase flexibility and focus on breathing techniques that can be very helpful in the delivery room. Yoga has so many benefits to the body and mind that can aid in relaxation and help decrease anxiety and stress. A close friend of mine once told me that yoga was the only way she was able to maintain calm and healthy throughout her pregnancy. No matter what stage of your pregnancy, be sure to let your teacher know you are pregnant. Pregnancy is a beautiful thing and practicing yoga can keep the mind and body clear and healthy so it can be enjoyed to its fullest extent.
If there is some form of exercise or movement that has always been a part of your life, chances are you can continue to do it when you are pregnant! Being a dancer, I have seen friends of mine who are expecting in ballet class. Finding something you really love to do will only help you stay motivated throughout your pregnancy. If you are comfortable in the pool, try going for a swim. Swimming is low-impact aerobic exercise that will get your heart rate going (as well as your baby’s). It may be simple, but walking can be a wonderful way to exercise in a safe way. Attempting to fit a few long walks in each week will keep you moving and creates some time for yourself during a hectic week. All of these forms of exercise can be wonderful tools to keep you healthy and strong throughout your pregnancy. Always make sure you consult your doctor before starting any kind of exercise routine.
For more advice on healthy workouts:
- Trick Out Your Triceps (Women’s Health)
- No Gear Here (Women’s Health)
- The Best Exercises For a Backless Dress (Women’s Health)
For more health and fitness from genConnect:
- 6 Tips on Getting Your Pre-Baby Body Back
- Top 5 Tips for Forever Health with Ms. Fitness Greta Blackburn
- Breastfeeding and Formula Can Go Hand-in-Hand, Guilt-Free
- Exercises That Promote Longevity—And Ones That Don’t!
- Wellness versus Fitness (VIDEO)
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These are one expert’s views on the news. Share with us your thoughts in the comments box below.