How has exercise changed since becoming pregnant?
1) I stopped running.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with running while pregnant. I’m in awe of the women who are still doing half marathons or speedy distances. The main reason I stopped running was that in the first trimester, my body just felt fragile. It felt wrong to me to get out of breath and pound the pavement that much. Everything down there just felt more tender, especially since you use your core and lower abs a lot while running. And while I felt like exercising, I just didn’t really feel like running. It was also winter, so of course the cold was a major deterrent. I did go on several runs in the first tri, but they weren’t great ones. In fact, just before I found out I was pregnant I had an awful run that had me stopping every mile for cramps in my sides. I suspected my body was a’changin’. I ran at about 20 weeks too on a beautiful spring day and it went fine, but since I hadn’t ran in so long it wasn’t a great one. Psychological or physiological? I think I’m just out of running shape now, so I doubt I’ll run again. So I just don’t think running is in the cards for me. Luckily I’ve been active in many other ways!
2) I took up walking. Lots of walking.
95% of the reasons why I run can be satisfied with walking. Walking (especially on the hills here) is good weight bearing low intensity cardio while enjoying the outdoors. In fact, I kind of like walking more now. It’s great because most of the time (it’s not summer yet..) it doesn’t require a second shower because I don’t get too sweaty, and I have been able to do it in my street clothes. I do miss the high of running (especially when anyone is talking about a race or I see a runner out on a beautiful morning) but for now, I like walking more. Thankfully I have the time to put in the miles. Podcasts, magazines and moms on the phone are a plus! Since I walk a lot around town anyways, some days I have covered 7,8,9 miles in a day when I add my exercise walk with social or commute walks!
3) I swapped out yoga for prenatal yoga.
I hadn’t done too much regular yoga, so this was more of an addition than a swap. I didn’t start prenatal until I was about 14 weeks, but it was about this time when I could no longer lie flat on my stomach in a class and figured regular power yoga might be a bit too bendy for my growing torso. Love prenatal yoga! Yay for squats and pelvic circles.
4) Once a week cycle class.
I really enjoy my Wednesday cycle class and figured I could easily modify it to suit however I was feeling that day. I have taken my intensity down just a weeeee bit and opt out of the jumps at times, but for the most part this is my one high intensity, sweaty workout of the week. I’d go a second time but I just don’t love any other class as much as Amy’s and I hate that it’s always held in a dark, dark room.
5) And there’s Body Pump.
I’m very happy that I’ve continued to go to Pump throughout pregnancy so far! I really enjoy the class and have a group of friends I look forward to seeing on Mondays and Fridays. I want to keep myself strong for labor and the baby care beyond. When I couldn’t imagine something high intensity like a run, Pump still sounded appealing.
A few Pump changes:
-I dropped my weights down a hair after becoming pregnant. Like with running, I just didn’t want to feel that edge of fatigue. And feeling more fragile meant I didn’t want to be picking up the heaviest weights I possibly could. So I stepped down just a baby weight on everything and continued on. Still get tons of burn!
-Around 20 weeks I started to incline my bench. No idea how much this might impact the whole vena cava compression, but it is a bit easier to get on and off of. I often prop my leg up in a “figure four: while I’m on my back, as it seems to take some of the pressure of lying flat and lets just my lower body tip to the side just a bit, hopefully reducing the pressure. My upper body is still square though.
-I’ve modified the abs track since about 7 weeks when I had that horrible cramping. I was worried I had irritated my lower abs, so I stopped doing abs. Once the second tri started, I felt stronger and less fragile and I added back planks. During the abs track I try to do some leg lifts, 3 planks (front, both sides) and then some stretching while everyone else is still crunching. A kegel or two if I can remember!
-I still opt for the higher intensity options – like if there’s an optional hop, I still do it. Most of the time.
-I’ve added a nice 1 minute camper’s pose to my stretching. Can’t hurt right? (Oh yes it can!)
6) I’ve cut out the elliptical. And vacuuming!
My prenatal yoga teacher is big on keeping the pelvis aligned square to the front throughout pregnancy. Certain movements with reaches or twists pull the pelvis to one side or the other. She has three things she strongly recommends we not do:
-the elliptical (more often than not, the motion pulls hips forward and back, misaligning the pelvis.)
-vacuuming (she tells us to get our partners to do this – or hire an intern!)
-gardening (unless we are VERY careful to keep the hips forward. Reaching side to side is forbidden. Weeding right in front of your body while squatting is OK)
7) I’ve added in some home workouts.
Since I’m running less, walking a lot, and no longer doing cardio equipment like the elliptical (see above) or Stairmaster (too intense), I started to seek out prenatal DVDs. I first bought Summer Sanders’ DVD and then did a review of Expecting More (which I like a lot more). I also have a Knocked Up Fitness one to try out and review! And some YogaDownload prenatal yoga saved, but I haven’t tried those yet either.
Mon: Pump Challenge
Tues: Walk + prenatal yoga
Thurs: DVD/walk/inevitable rest day/swim?
Fri: Body Pump
What’s to come?
I would REALLY like to start swimming again, especially now that it’s warm!! I have almost scheduled it in a handful of times, but I don’t like going to the gym on Sundays and my Thursdays keep getting walks instead!! Maybe this week will be the week!