I am 22 weeks today. Probably the most surprising aspect of my pregnancy so far is been that I’ve been able to continue my normal exercise routine, with a few slight modifications. I had no idea what to expect and am continuing to learn that just like every person is an individual, every pregnancy is completely different and there really is no “normal.”
I continue to be very lucky in an extremely easy pregnancy, which probably makes my routine possible, but I do realize that the second go-round might be completely different and what works for me would never work for another person.
The advice I received from my doctors is that exercise is one of the best things you can do for your developing baby due to:
- Increased blood flow to the uterus
- Prevention of gestational diabetes
- Increased stamina for a safer labor & delivery
With that said, her advice was to continue my normal routine of running, spinning, yoga (no hot yoga though), Pilates, dancing, etc and make any necessary modifications – stop if too tired, too winded or dizzy or faint. I have followed this advice closely and found that I’m able to continue to do most of my normal routine, although maybe slower and not as gracefully 🙂
Evidentially there is a misconception that pregnant women should not do exercises on their back after the 2nd trimester; however my doctor assured me that only applies if the mother is obese or has known complications.
At 22 weeks, my usual routine consists of some combination of the following. I try to follow the guidelines to get at least 30 min of moderate activity once a day. Some days that’s not feasible due to my work schedule or other commitments, so I generally follow a per week goal of 200 min with my trusty FitBit keeping me honest.
I am also taking mental notes of what will be easiest to stay on track with after the baby’s born, as I know my time will become even more limited and I will need to find alternate and creative ways to fit in exercise.
Running has never been an enjoyable exercise for me; however I also find it the most effective and most efficient way to exercise, period. I’ve noticed that my pace is considerably slower than my pre-preggo pace, but I’m ok with that. I shoot for a 25 min jog 2x per week at a pace that I can hold while talking. This usually amounts to a 2.5 -3 mile run. After doing the half-marathon a few weeks ago, its amazing how easy and fast 3 miles go!
With the nice spring weather in Charlotte, I’ve also been trying to squeeze in more quick walks with our Charlie dog. He loves it obviously and its a great way to get some fresh air, catch up with neighbors and decompress with my husband.
Because of its low impact, spinning is one of the best cardio exercises for expectant mamas so Flywheel classes continue to be part of my routine. Although every spinning studio is different, Flywheel’s draw is its competitive nature as you can compete against yourself (individual scores) vs the rest of the class (Torqboard) for an added boost. I’ve had to completely disregard trying to set a PR or get a good score and instead focus on breathing, cardio and flushing out my legs.
The other great thing about Flywheel is the community. Many of our friends are regulars and I’ve gotten to know the instructors well (many of them first time mamas too) so its really combination workout + social time that we enjoy here in CLT.
Funny enough, this has been the biggest adjustment I’ve had to make. Bikram (aka “hot yoga”) is off-limits due to the risk to the baby for the mother’s temperature getting too hot. I’ve had to cut off doing this and instead stick to gentler pre-natal focused yoga classes.
Another caution from my doctor: pregnancy relaxes your joints & ligaments so be mindful of over-stretching & overuse to prevent injury.
I thought I’d have to cut back on this after the second trimester, but my doctor assured me its fine. Evidentially the “don’t exercise on your back” only applies if you’re obese or have a known complication during the second trimester.
Another great find has been the Tracy Anderson Pregnancy Project DVD series. These are 45 min workouts with light weights and barre-like exercises specifically designed for pregnant women, with each month having its own specialized workout. Added bonus is that Tracy filmed the series while pregnant herself – so no reason or excuse to slack off during!
Not only is it great cardio, but the added bonus of following choreography is a great workout for the brain too. Whenever possible, I try to go right after work because having to focus on something other than what I was just working on is one of the best mental releases there is.
I can’t imagine my life without being able to dance. With my favorite Zumba class 5 min away at a gym that has affordable childcare, this will become a non-negotiable. HIIT/Tabata
HITT (or high intensity interval training) is a workout designed to elevate your heart rate for short bursts of time to boost cardio efficiency. These are known as “Tabata” style workouts and my favorite example is OrangeTheoryFitness, a boutique studio that just opened several locations in Charlotte.
Everyday the workout changes and will be some combination of free weights, treadmill and rowing designed to keep your heart rate in the “orange zone” for 12 minutes of a 60 min class.
Participants wear a heart-rate monitor throughout class and a giant TV screen tells you individually exactly how hard (or not hard) to work to achieve the correct heart rate zone. It’s not designed as a competition, so there are no goals to track other than 12 minutes in the orange zone.
This is great instant feedback for pregnant mamas as its just another gage of intensity and not pushing yourself too hard.
I love it.
Bottom line: Exercise up to 22 weeks has been fairly easily and I’m hoping it will continue that way for the duration of the pregnancy, although I know I’ll have to make some more modifications as my bump gets bigger.