Pregnancy is a crucial period in a woman’s life where you experience several body changes, and regular exercise can help you stay healthy and relieve certain pregnancy-related discomforts. However, you may wonder if certain workouts, like cardiac exercises, are safe during pregnancy and free from risks. Many chronic and lifestyle-related illnesses are known to be caused by a lack of exercise. Therefore, you might want to continue exercising to prioritize your health and fitness during pregnancy. However, before engaging in any exercise, it is vital to understand which ones are safe to perform while pregnant for you and the baby and follow the guidelines given by your doctor (1). Continue reading to learn about some safe cardio exercises for pregnant women.
Benefits Of Cardio During Pregnancy
Even though cardio is one of the best ways to lose weight, performing it during pregnancy is not advisable. So, if you are pregnant, instead of performing cardio workouts for losing weight, you can perform them for getting these other benefits (2):
- Relieving aches and pains
- Boosting your energy levels
- Making you feel positive and better
If you are a beginner and are starting cardio exercises during pregnancy, start at a slow pace with low-impact activities and aim to work out 3-5 times a week for 30 minutes for each session (3). Pro individuals can continue the way they were exercising earlier, avoiding some of the heavy-duty workouts (1).
Disclaimer: Please take doctor’s approval before starting any exercises during pregnancy.
Cardio Exercises During Pregnancy
We list out some pregnancy cardio workouts:
Walking for 20-30 minutes a day is sufficient to improve stamina, maintain endurance, and strengthen your body (4) (5). You can also use this time to listen to your favorite music and have some time for yourself. You can try following these steps:
- Start with a five-minute brisk walk (make sure not to exert yourself).
- Slow down and walk for another five minutes at a slow pace.
- Repeat step 1 for another five minutes.
- Repeat step 2 for the last five minutes.
- Perform stretching exercises for five minutes to end the session.
2. Stationary Bike:
Exercising on a stationary bike is completely safe during pregnancy, but a growing belly can put your back under lots of stress; therefore, make sure not to overdo it (6). Following the steps while performing would be beneficial to you:
- Warm up for five minutes at a speed you are comfortable with.
- Increase your speed for the next three minutes.
- And for the next three minutes, lower your speed. This completes one set.
- You can do three to six sets depending upon your comfort levels.
- In the end, make sure to do some stretching exercises.
3. Climbing Steps:
Climbing steps is another simple, but impactful exercise that can be practiced during pregnancy without any problems. You can plan it while going to the office or coming back home. But make sure to keep the following points in mind (7):
- Climb the stairs at a slow/moderate pace.
- Dedicate time and decide how many steps you would climb daily.
- Increase the number gradually if you are comfortable.
- Wear comfortable shoes.
- Avoid talking on your mobile phone while climbing.
Swimming is the best and the most advisable exercise for a pregnant woman. This is because, in water, we would only weigh one-tenth of our actual weight. Swimming offers the following advantages (8):
- Boosts your power and flexibility.
- Unlike other exercises that can overheat your body, swimming actually cools your body down.
- It also helps reduce the swelling of the legs and feet during pregnancy.
- It may have positive effects on the lungs and the heart (9).
5. Low Impact Aerobics:
Low impact aerobics/dance of any form would be helpful during pregnancy. Low impact aerobics don’t involve jumping, kickboxing, or running at a fast pace (low running is still allowed) (10).
Make sure to always keep one of your feet on the ground while performing the exercises. Also, have a bottle of water near you to keep yourself hydrated and make sure to eat properly (rest for a while, say half an hour) before and after working out (2).
Cardio exercises during pregnancy are safe unless your healthcare provider mentions avoiding certain activities. Cardio exercises may help to ease pregnancy symptoms, aid a smooth delivery, and assist in weight management. In addition, they may increase your energy levels, reduce pains and aches, or aid in mood improvement during pregnancy. You should begin at a slow pace if you’re a beginner and gradually increase the pace. Activities such as climbing steps, walking, stationary bike, swimming, and low-impact aerobics are some of the best cardio exercises for pregnant women.
Infographic: Safe Cardio Workouts During Pregnancy
While heavy lifting and strenuous exercises are not recommended during pregnancy, light to moderate exercise is recommended for relieving body pains and bringing positivity. Check out the infographic below to learn some cardio exercises for pregnant women and associated safety tips. However, make sure to consult your doctor before starting any new exercise.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. When should I stop doing cardio during pregnancy?
If you feel dizzy, out of breath, or uncomfortable after doing cardio or any kind of physical activity, refrain from continuing it and consult your doctor.
2. What exercises should be avoided in pregnancy?
While pregnant, avoid strenuous activities, such as contact sports, which might exert too much pressure on the fetus and pose an increased risk of injury to you and your abdomen.
3. Can I do squats while pregnant?
Yes. Doing squats during pregnancy is safe and offers several benefits, including preparing the body for the baby’s delivery.
4. Can I do planks while pregnant?
If your doctor has given you the green signal for doing planks during pregnancy, you may continue to do so. However, try doing side planks instead of regular planks to reduce the risk of injury to your belly.
5. How much exercise do I need during pregnancy?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that pregnant women get about 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week for a healthy pregnancy. Thus, 30-minute exercise sessions, such as brisk walking, per day for five days a week might be acceptable (11).
- Cardio exercises have multiple benefits such as relieving aches and pains, boosting energy levels, and improving mood.
- Daily exercises such as walking, stationary cycling, swimming, and climbing stairs can be helpful.
- Consult your doctor before starting any cardio exercise.
Discover the ideal methods and guidelines for engaging in cardiovascular activity while pregnant. Gain useful suggestions and advice for staying healthy and fit during this special time.
- Pregnancy and exercise.
- Exercise during pregnancy.
- Exercise during pregnancy.
- Exercise in pregnancy.
- Is it Safe? During Pregnancy and For Mom and Baby
- Exercise and Pregnancy.
- Climbing Stairs During Pregnancy: Almost Every Mother-in-Law’s Concern.
- Antenatal swimming.
- Maternal swimming pool exposure during pregnancy in relation to birth outcomes and cord blood DNA methylation among private well users
- 7 Great Exercises for Your First Trimester of Pregnancy.
- Healthy Pregnant or Postpartum Women