Are you an expecting mother in her first trimester of pregnancy? Are you also wondering about whether or not there is a balance between physical fitness and pregnancy? Keep reading to learn more about first trimester workouts!
If your answer to either question is “yes”, then you might be interested in knowing what exercises you can do. Exercise is a must for all people. From the elderly to the expecting, all populations can do it with some conditioning and strengthening.
The benefits of exercise are innumerable. Pregnant mothers in their first trimester will benefit from the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal effects exercises can bring. From experience, I have also found low impact workouts to be great for heart health and blood sugar levels—two things pregnant mothers need to keep an eye on this early in their pregnancy.
Yoga, swimming, fast walking, stationary cycling, pilates, dancing, and some weight training— these first trimester workouts, for me, give mothers the most bang for their buck without compromising health and safety. Let me walk you through each!
Walking may not seem like the toughest of activities to perform. However, whenever I point out the increased energy demands of pregnancy, most of my clients agree—walking can be challenging for mothers and thus an excellent first trimester workout.
Walking is an aerobic activity. This means that walking requires the use of the heart and lungs to produce low-intensity repetitive movements for a long time.
Studies have shown that aerobic exercise can benefit blood vessels, the heart, and the lungs. In particular, exercises like walking, swimming, and running can improve capillary blood volume.
Improved capillary blood volume is crucial for the oxygenation of the placenta. It also contributes to better postpartum recovery whether you choose a Cesarean or normal delivery.
Lower back pain and aches can be common during pregnancy. While you may be able to “tough it out”, neither are desirable experiences. To alleviate the soreness and tightness associated with pregnancy, some stretching will work wonders for you.
And what better time to stretch than in a yoga class, right? Yoga can increase the range of motion of joints, especially the hips and lower back.
Yoga can help provide the spinal decompression necessary to alleviate the pain of lordosis that starts to occur between the first and second trimesters.
Pilates as a first trimester workout is an excellent pairing to yoga for pregnant women. Like yoga, pilates can add elasticity to your joints and provide relief in areas with swelling and tightness.
The added benefits of pilates are the breathing and core exercises that occur in the sessions. Pilates requires you to perform a lot of movements that require balance and control. Even simple squat holds will require you to contract your core. The benefits of Pilates include stronger joints and a stronger pelvic floor if you do things correctly.
Swimming is a perfect prenatal exercise. Swimming not only improves your circulation but also provides you with some resistance training.
Given the information above, many believe swimming while pregnant may be more beneficial than running as a first trimester workout due to its low-impact nature. Also, let’s face it—swimming is just fun!
For something a little more impactful from a cardiovascular and musculoskeletal standpoint, I recommend stationary cycling. Stationary cycling has all the leg-building benefits of a back squat. It provides this and more minus the dangerous axial loading that can add to the burden of your lower back.
Stationary cycling is an excellent first trimester workout for cardiovascular health. Fun as it is though, I have seen many first tri moms overdo it.
For safety and maximum benefits, I recommend putting in the miles for about 10 to 30 minutes a day at a pace that allows you to sustain a conversation.
That’s right—dancing! But, I don’t mean the kind where you do headspins or wear heels as you do pirouettes with a partner!
Nowadays, there are dance classes for pregnant mothers available in person and online. These dance workouts or lessons cater specifically to first trimester mothers. The creators have taken the guesswork out of whether or not you will be able to jump in—figuratively speaking, of course.
To dance safely, you’ll need a good pair of shoes. Swelling and foot aches might be a problem you may or already be struggling with. That said, instead of flats, you may want to choose shoes with the right mix of stability and cushion.
A first trimester workout that contains a weight training program may seem like medical heresy. However, I believe weight training can lead to adaptations that can be resourceful to your pregnancy and recovery later on.
Now, am I implying that you go to your local gym, chalk up your hands, and attempt a deadlift or snatch PR? Well, no!
I agree that your first trimester workout needs to be a little challenging. Nonetheless, I believe safety should not be compromised. For weight training, you can go with safer implements and machines. Also, choose exercises that will not put you at risk.
For example, you can opt for bodyweight training with equipment. I love to use dumbbells or kettlebells.
Final Word: Before Your First Trimester Workout, Check With Your Physician!
I may have given sound workout advice in this article. However, I still recommend you check with your physician which exercises you can perform.
Nonetheless, once you get the green light from your doctor, feel free to get stronger, healthier, and fitter with these first trimester workouts. You will be doing yourself and your baby a favor!