Pregnancy Exercise 101: How to get started

By D

Dr. Ashley Wozniak, PT, DPT


I always tell pregnant moms that it’s never too late to start a cardiovascular exercise routine, even if they’ve never exercised before! You first want to make sure that you’re medically cleared for exercise by both your OB or midwife, and your Physical Therapist.


Whatever type of physical exercise you love and enjoy is what I encourage you to do during your pregnancy – whether that’s strength training, Pilates, yoga, running, swimming, hiking, etc. You want it to be something you truly love – otherwise, it may be challenging to stick with it.


It’s key to monitor and be aware of what’s going on in your own body to determine what you can handle. Also, a Physical Therapist trained in prenatal exercise can help guide you on where to start and how to progress your routines. Starting with a walking routine can be great if you haven’t been actively doing cardiovascular exercise prior to pregnancy.


Good for you – and your baby

There are many benefits to exercising during pregnancy – increased endorphins, increased energy level, and increased blood flow and oxygen to your baby in utero as well. Exercise during pregnancy can help reduce the risk of having gestational diabetes and the chances of developing pre-eclampsia or high blood pressure.


Keeping your core and posterior chain muscle groups strong during pregnancy can help prevent back and hip pain, sciatic nerve pain, symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) and other pregnancy-related aches and pains. It can also help make for quicker healing postpartum!


At Inspired Maternity’s prenatal fitness class series, we also focus on exercises that help pregnant moms train for the birthing process itself – strengthening the necessary muscles and practicing positions to use while laboring and giving birth.


Core is key

It’s important to ensure that you’re coordinating and maintaining good core strength as part of whatever exercise you’re doing. Like in postpartum, the keys are coordinating proper breathing with core and pelvic floor contractions.


The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) also recommends that pregnant women have a pelvic floor assessment done during pregnancy to ensure the integrity of the pelvic floor.


During pregnancy, you will want to focus on strengthening the posterior chain – your glutes, hamstrings and calves – as early on as possible. I individualize exercises in these areas for each pregnant mom to help prevent some of the typical pregnancy aches and pains.


Two misconceptions

You may have heard several of the misconceptions about exercise during pregnancy that are “out there.”


  • Misconception 1: Pregnant moms shouldn’t do core exercises. While it’s true that core exercises such as crunches and sit-ups aren’t recommended during pregnancy, there are many other core exercises that can be done in other positions such as standing, sitting (birthing ball), and half kneeling including exercise with breathing-focused and arm-focused exercises.


  • Misconception 2: Exercises cannot be done on your back or in other certain positions during pregnancy. There are several safe ways to do these exercises – but you do need to be guided by a trained, maternity-focused Physical Therapist on signs and symptoms to watch for.


Want to get started now?

The prenatal fitness and wellness classes offered by our studio are intimately sized in order to provide individualized direction and guidance to each woman, as well as personalized exercise progressions that can be done at home between class sessions.


Talk about your pregnancy or postpartum goals for healing with our Physical Therapist, Dr. Ashley Wozniak. Learn more about our studio, wellness programs and Physical Therapy offerings at www.inspiredmaternity.com.


Inspired Maternity is a one of a kind Pregnancy and Postnatal Health, Wellness and Fitness Studio located in Peoria, Ill. We offer in-studio prenatal and postpartum fitness programs and Physical Therapy assessments throughout the calendar year, as well as virtual options and telehealth visits.



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