How to Stay Active While Pregnant During Winter Months

Walking and swimming are both two of the most common forms of low-intensity workout for pregnant women, particularly walking as it provides a number of other benefits and helps to relieve many of the uncomfortable side effects of pregnancy. As the weather turns cooler, however, getting that nice walk outside with fresh air won’t be quite as easy for many who live in cold-weather states. Outdoor pools, too, are often no longer an option in the frigid temperatures, and indoor pools in the time of Covid-19 are best to be avoided for pregnant women. No worries, though, as there are a number of other pregnancy-safe, low-impact exercises you can continue to do indoors during these cold months! Before giving these exercises a try on your own, make sure to consult with your doctor to be sure they are safe for your pregnancy experience.

  • Squats: when incorporating squats into your exercise routine while pregnant, there are a few variations you can take to not only target different muscles, but for safety depending on different stages of pregnancy as well as for different health benefits for both you and your baby.
  • Standard bodyweight squats: these are great for higher reps and to get comfortable with the exercise! Be sure to keep your feet positioned just wider than shoulder-width distance. If you are concerned about your form, or are further along in your pregnancy, then chair squats are an excellent variation to ensure you are squatting low enough, but not too low, and giving an assist on your way back up.
  • Sumo squats: are another great variation, with your feet spread about a yoga mat’s width distance apart (we recommend considering using a yoga mat to give extra cushion under your feet during these exercises!). Be sure to have your toes facing out and heels in, and do not push yourself beyond your typical range of motion as it’s easier to over-extend in this position while pregnant. Keep in mind as well to not extend your knees past your toes when squatting; you want to always be sitting back far enough, as though you are sitting onto a chair (just as with standard bodyweight squats, it could be useful to position a chair beneath you here).
  • Exercise ball squats: Another squat variation includes the use of an exercise ball, positioned between your lower back and a wall. Once more you want to have your feet spread just a bit further than shoulder-width distance apart, and keep your abdominal wall contracted as you lower and lift, as this helps to protect your lower back. You may also bring your arms out straight in front of you to help with balance.

In each of these variations, be sure to squeeze your glute muscles on the way back up, and utilize your breathwork to help ease the movements by exhaling when lowering, and inhaling when pushing back up. Incorporating weights such as kettlebells or dumbbells, or resistance bands, can add a little more heat to your workout, but you’ll want to cut back on weights as you progress further into your pregnancy.

  • Bicep curls: when doing bicep curls, stand with your feet slightly hips-width distance apart and lift the weights by bending your arms at the elbows, inhaling on the way up and exhaling as you lower your arms back down, still extending from the elbows. Use your abdominal wall to hold your body steady and prevent yourself from rocking forward and backwards, as this could cause injury to your lower back and prevent you from receiving the full benefits of the exercise.
  • Push-ups: there are a few variations of push-ups you can try, but two of the best options are kneeling push-ups and incline push-ups. While you may be able to do regular push-ups, starting in a plank position and lowering yourself halfway before pushing back up again with your elbows pointed outward at a 45 degree angle, keeping your knees from touching the ground, you could injure your lower back if your form is not proper. That being said, taking a modification is beneficial even when not pregnant, but particularly when you are in order to avoid injury.
  • Kneeling Push Ups: For kneeling push-ups, align your hands shoulder-width apart, with your wrists directly under your shoulders, and knees on the ground. Lower down all the way to your belly with your elbows pointing outward at a 45 degree angle, and then push back up in one straight line, keeping your knees on the ground. Be sure to engage your core while both lowering and pushing back up as it will help to protect your lower back, and remember to breathe (inhale while lower, exhale when lifting)! This variation is only recommended during your first trimester, and even then, be sure to speak with your doctor to ensure this exercise is safe as you progress through the first trimester.
  • Incline push-ups:  are great for your second trimester, as well as for anyone that is not pregnant to help build strength and prepare for regular push-ups or to accommodate injuries. There are a number of items you can use for this variation: a sturdy chair (not a rolling chair), a sofa, a table, a rail, etc. You are also able to do incline push-ups on your feet or knees, depending on the height of the object you are placing your hands on. Whichever object you are using, place your palms on it and stand or kneel as you would in a plank position with your back straight, and slowly bend your elbows to lower your chest towards the object a little more than halfway, before straightening your arms to push yourself back up.

Many of these exercises are best to do during the 1st trimester, with modifications being taken as your pregnancy progresses; in fact, for the most part you should be able to continue your regular workout routine during the 1st trimester, which means that if you’ve been doing a lot of indoor strength training then you should be safe to continue those workouts! If you haven’t, the cold months might be the perfect time to begin picking up those weights.

If you are working out at home but you’re unsure of safe and correct form, or you need someone to guide you through a routine, there are a number of free or inexpensive workout videos and programs to help you! Many popular workout programs include lessons specifically geared towards pregnant women, with modifications and explanations on how to do the exercise in the most effective and safe way possible.

We hope you’re able to continue, or possibly even start, your workout routine in the comfort of the indoors until the weather permits you to venture back outside for your daily walks before baby arrives!

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