So far we’ve talked a lot about food, diet, how to eat during pregnancy, with or without morning sickness. Now it’s time to flip the switch a bit and talk about another hurdle for a lot of women during pregnancy – exercise.

With the exception of my very first, I have always exercise while pregnant. I didn’t with him because I was so sick during the first and second trimester, and in a good deal of back and leg pain for the remainder. I can’t help but wonder, though, if I had exercised, if the pain and sickness would have been less.

Runners Take Your Markphoto credit

Why Exerise?

Exercise during pregnancy is beneficial, AND essential. Not only does exercise help to counter the possible less-than-healthy diet you may be consuming if feeling sick, but it also helps you to FEEL better, physically and mentally. Plus, by working your body out and stretching, you’ll definitely be sleeping like a baby at the end of the day!

 Sleep Like A Babyphoto credit

This may seem like an oxy moron – I’m exerting all this extra energy, shouldn’t it make me feel worse? Quite the opposite actually! I have noticed a dramatic difference in both my attitude and my nausea during the days I have gotten in a simple workout or just walked for 30-40 minutes, with or without the kids.

Other benefits I have noticed – decreased sciatica (especially when I’m stretching the muscles properly), more energy, having to drink more water, better attitude throughout the day, AND a quicker post-pregnancy recovery. It’s true!

For the first 8 weeks of this pregnancy, I didn’t work out, other than the occasional walk around the block – partly because we were on vacation for a good chunk of it, but also because I was just feeling so raunchy. Then one day I decided to get off my butt and get into my prental exercise program, and see if it made a difference. And boy did it ever! The more I do it, the better I feel throughout the day. And I’m not losing sleep, because the light sky is waking me up at 6 am anyway, so I may as well get up and do something beneficial with that time!

When to Exercise

I typically would suggest exercising in the morning, especially since you’ll have (hopefully) had a good night’s rest, and that’s when it seems to make the most impact – you’re less tired, more motivated, and ready to face a new day. If you’re already in a good workout routine, continue on with what you’ve been using for the first trimester, but take it slow and go easy on the weights so you don’t over do it on your changing and shifting muscles and ligaments.

If you just can’t get that morning workout in, try to do it before too late in the day – let the kids do it with you, or let them run around the house/backyard, or put a DVD on for them to watch. Just don’t let the whole day go by, thinking you’ll get to it at night – because believe me, you won’t!

Which Program to Use

You don’t have to go to the gym, go running, own a treadmill or other exercise equipment. There are some really great at home prenatal workout programs you can get into – for minimal cost too! Throughout the first trimester, if you’re feeling pretty good, you can probably get away with your regular exercise routine. But once you start to develop a belly, or if you’re feeling like it’s too strenuous and you’re over doing it, switch to a specific prenatal program that you can use throughout the rest of the pregnancy.

I tend to get bored about 3 weeks into a program, so I keep a couple on hand to alternate, and also switch it up a bit with walking. Fortunately I can get a good walk in around our neighborhood in about 30-40 minutes before the whole family is up, plus I try to take the kids on a walk whenever it’s nice out.

A couple of programs I would HIGHLY recommend using include Prenatal Fitness Fix with Erin O’Brien (also available on – I used this one with my 3rd pregnancy and LOVED it. It is a little more on the advanced scale, with lots of cardio, muscle toning, strength training and stretching, and a little longer in length (40 minutes), but I found 3 times a week with that one was perfect.

Another great one I have been enjoying this pregnancy is Lindsay Brin’s Complete Pregnancy Fitness DVD set. This one has specialized workouts for each trimester, as well as a post-pregnancy bootcamp (if you purchase it from Moms Into Fitness, you will receive hard copies as well as a free  download of each DVD). I love this series because it does sort of a circuit type training, between cardio and weight lifting, with modified versions for the days I’m feeling really out of it. Lindsay also includes a weekly calendar for you to follow, with about 3 days of the workouts scheduled out of 7 (which is definitely enough) plus some extra walking in there (I skip all of the yoga).

Now, time to get up and exercise, for your health and the health of your baby. It doesn’t have to be intense, or every day, just get moving and keep on moving. You won’t regret it.

What are some of your favourite ways to stay active during pregnancy?

Come back tomorrow as we talk about adding supplements to your pregnancy diet. And check out the other bloggers and their series!