Why Exercise is Key During Pregnancy + My Top 10 Prenatal Workouts on YouTube

Posted on 10 Dec 2017 in health, pregnancy, yoga | Comments Off on Why Exercise is Key During Pregnancy + My Top 10 Prenatal Workouts on YouTube

If there’s one thing that’s kept me sane during the ups and downs of pregnancy it’s movement and exercise. I  found out I was pregnant right before a trip to Paris, during which, I walked countless miles everyday and felt amazing. Almost immediately upon returning from that trip I was hit with severe morning (and noon and night) sickness and exercise wasn’t quite as fun. I still tried to do something active everyday, even if it was just a quick walk with my dogs, but, not gonna lie, a lot of days I started a workout only to lay dormant on my mat for 30 minutes, riding waves of nausea. Most of my second trimester was a breeze and I was able to add some more vigorous workouts back in and did a combo of walking, dance at Hipline and either yoga or strength training everyday. Third trimester has been similar… so far. While my body is getting crowded and I find myself out of breathe more easily, even walking up the stairs, I still feel more energized after a workout so I’m going to keep it up as long as I can!

Exercise has always been a big part of my life. Coming from a dance and theatre background I feel my best, and most expressive, when I’m moving. Although I’ve never been super “sporty” I have always done some form of physical activity and  found that low impact workouts, walking and yoga have been the best fit for my body. Exercise also keeps my mental chatter down and my anxiety at bay, something that has continued to be important in pregnancy since I’ve chosen to be un-medicated, and, as a result, I know I need to be very proactive about managing my stress levels.

The Benefits

For some women, getting pregnant seems to be a reason to opt out of physical activity, after all, it does take a lot of effort to grow a human, but I think if they kept it up they may notice that they actually feel better day to day. Every body is different, so certainly listen to your body and if you’re sick for months, rest is probably most important, but going outside for a walk, attending a dance or fitness class, or doing one of the videos below may actually make you feel really awesome, at least that has been true for me these last 7+ months.

Not only do mamas benefit from exercise while pregnant, but new studies are linking tons of healthy benefits for babies as well, some of which may last a lifetime. According to Psychology Today, “30 Minutes of Moderate Exercise Most Days During Pregnancy Benefits Children Long-Term”Dr. Sean Newcomer, of California State University San Marcos and Dr. Bahls, of Universitätsmedizin Greifswald in Germany said, “Our study was the first to demonstrate that maternal exercise during pregnancy significantly impacts vascular function in adult offspring.” This may be due to the rise in heart rate of the mother also translating to her baby, sort of like a ‘womb workout’! Further, we’re surrounded by toxins in our food and environment and foods that make us sick and overweight, so giving your baby the healthiest start possible can help them avoid obesity, diabetes and other disease later in life.

Other benefits of exercise to mom and baby include:

  1. Improved vascular function in offspring and a potential decreased risk of heart disease later in life.
  2. Reducing back aches as the belly gets bigger
  3. Improved energy throughout the day
  4. More stamina and energy during labor
  5. Improved immunity for mom + baby
  6. Better mood
  7. Improved sleep quality
  8. Better ability to relax the muscles which benefits women during labor
  9. Healthy weight gain during pregnancy
  10. Lowered risk of gestational diabetes
  11. Healthier birth weight in babies
  12. Helps get baby in the right position for birth.
  13. May even boost development of babies brain in utero!- read this, it’s so cool!

Precautions

A few things to consider. If you have a high-risk pregnancy check with your midwives/doctors before exercising, but if you’re not at risk, get up and get moving! A lot of pregnancy’s negative symptoms can be combated with simple movement and 30 minutes per day is very manageable for most. I always do my workout first thing in the am since I’m so tired in the evening.

Be sure to stay super hydrated before and after and do a thorough warm up and cool down. Also keep in mind that your blood volume doubles while pregnant and relaxin can increase flexibility so don’t push it too hard and keep the effort level at about a 6 or 7 out of 10. You should still be able to carry on a conversation! Also, be mindful if you’re doing a video and are very new to exercise. Take it slow and take breaks when needed. Also, for those type A mamas out there, this is not about forcing yourself through a hot yoga class five days per week to lose weight or not gain any. Your body needs rest too, so take it easy. Remember, the goal is a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

And now, here are some of my favorite YouTube videos, all of which I’ve tested myself, at least once, most multiple times. I’ve split these up in to a few categories because I get REALLY bored doing the same workout over and over so I have to mix it up and my body seems to like it when I do!

Prenatal Yoga

1. Yoga with a view- It is hard to find prenatal yoga videos that aren’t a 30 minute savasana snooze fest! I found a few below that still have some flow but appropriate modifications for pregnancy. I’m also a sucker for pretty backdrops which a couple of these have, the rest are boring living rooms, but great sequencing.

2. Prenatal Vinyasa- I like this one when I have a bit more time…

3. Alo Flow- And here’s a very well produced flow by Alo in their beautiful space (probably in LA 🙂

4. 1st and 2nd trimester focused flow- And finally, another no frills video with a great flow that really helps me re-focus my mind and is great in the am on low energy days!

Prenatal Strength Training

5. BodyFit By Amy– This chick is awesome, you can tell she’s been a trainer for a long time and I feel really safe doing her strength training workouts. Highly reccommend them!

6. Low tech Strength Training/Cardio– This one is definitely no frills and I almost turned it off due to semi-terrible sound quality, but the routine and this trainer is really sweet and laid-back, definitely a full body workout!

7. Toning Cardio for all trimesters- Aside from the really stoic pregnant lady, this one is super fun and is just bodyweight focused in case you don’t have hand weights at home.

8. Kickboxing Ballet Body Sculpt- I’ve been obsessed with Jessica Smith TV for quite awhile. She’s super authentic and puts together great workouts from mellow walking workouts to vigorous kick boxing. This is my ‘no-frill’ low impact go to channel!

9. Cardio Barefoot Flow– Jessica Smith TV does it again with this cardio barefoot flow that is low impact but also really fun and dancey.

10. Nighttime Yoga- If you have trouble sleeping or just need to unwind from a tough day a short night time yoga sequence may be just what the doctor ordered! I like this one, it’s well rounded and mellow. I’d also highly recommend checking out yoga nidra for deep rest and better sleep.

Do you have any prenatal videos that you love? If so, please share on my facebook page at FreshMeetsFierce!

Thanks as always for reading!

Resources:

  1. https://www.fitpregnancy.com/exercise/prenatal-workouts/33-reasons-exercise-now
  2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201310/physical-activity-during-pregnancy-benefits-babies-health