HEATHER'S BABY WEEK: Top exercises for pregnant women

12:08 PM, Sep 17, 2010   |    comments
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It's not easy finding time or the energy to exercise when you're pregnant.

So we asked 10 News employee Amy Burton to show us 5 easy exercises you can do at home throughout your pregnancy. Amy is an  (ACE) certified Personal Trainer with additional training in pre and post-natal fitness. Watch the 5 stretches and exercises she recommends and read her interview below.

How can exercise help a woman throughout her pregnancy?

Exercise throughout pregnancy has many benefits:

- Helps keep weight gain within the recommended limits

- Relieves stress

- Lowers incidence of pregnancy induced hypertension(high blood pressure)& gestational diabetes

- Prepares your body to handle the physical demands of labor

So many pregnant women don't have a lot of time to devote to exercise. What are some easy things we can do every day or 3 times a week?

Many people think they need at least an hour or more to exercise (get ready, travel to the gym etc...) but they don't have that much time so instead they skip it. Best overall thing pregnant women can do is to change their mindset to shorter exercise sessions a few times a day.  It all adds up to helping Mom-To-Be stay fit. Example:  Wake up and do 10 minutes of slow stretching.   Take a 15 minute brisk walk during lunch or right when you get home from work.   When you are relaxing watching TV in evening, mix in another 15 minutes of exercises like the cat stretch, wall squats, and stretches that help ease back pain.  This adds up to a 40 minute workout!

Sometimes pregnant women are too tired to exercise. Help motivate us!

When you are pregnant, tired, and uncomfortable carrying around extra weight, exercise can seem overwhelming.  Enlist your spouse and friends to help keep you active when you are tired by going for a walk together, dancing around the house, or playing in a swimming pool.  Getting in a pool(especially with the Florida heat) is one of the best places to feel lighter and reduce stress of carrying a baby on the body.  Not only does a pregnant woman feel more comfortable but exercising in the water provides 12x the resistance of air so simple walking back and forth or standard aerobic moves gives you a great workout. Hand weights are another easy way to get a quick and effective workout.  Keep 3-5-8 lb weights by the TV and stand up at commercials to do a set of bicep curls!

What are some simple exercises we can do in the weeks before birth?

The simplest and most universal exercise anyone can do is walk but this is a time when stretching and core(primarily the stomach/back)strengthening exercises are key. Many of the exercises shown in the news story are great for women getting closer to giving birth.  Sitting in a chair and leaning forward, head down between your legs helps stretch lower back.  Knees on the floor, arms crossed on the edge of the chair stretch tight chest and arm muscles. On your hands and knees, round your back up like a cat by tightening your abdominal muscles and hold(helps strengthen your stomach muscles like a sit up!) Leaning up against a wall with your feet about 1 ½ feet away from the wall, slide down into a squat position then try to flatten the small of your back into the wall by tightening your abdominal muscles.  These are simple exercises although they may be confusing for a woman unfamiliar with them to understand just by reading these short descriptions. 

Can you share some simple ideas to help us get back into shape after baby?

Start kegel exercises right away and plan on walking a lot.  Get your baby used to being outdoors in a stroller and walk.  One of my favorite things a new Mom can do with their baby to help get back in shape is march around your house carrying your baby!  Turn on some music and keep moving by marching, doing side steps, slight squats, and other low impact movements.  By holding your baby in different positions, you are working your arm muscles and the added weight of your baby makes these simple movements harder.  Moms will be amazed at how much simple marching works abdominal muscles, legs, and provides a good aerobic workout.  Marching around your house to 3-4 songs typically ads up to about 15 minutes of exercise and your baby will enjoy the time with you and the excitement of seeing different things around the house!

Why was it important for you to create a video for moms?

I wanted to give Moms a way to enjoy spending quality time with their children and fit a workout into their busy day.   New Moms have a hard time trying to juggle everything and operate on little sleep.  The exercise series I created offers 3 short workouts for Moms to choose from and No equipment needed.  The DVD, Back in Shape with Baby, uses graphic animation and other techniques to keep babies stimulated throughout each workout.  The Exercise With Mommy video series was created to make exercising convenient, affordable, and include children so they can begin learning good fitness habits at an early age.

You can find more information about the Exercise With Mommy videos at www.exercisewithmommy.com or arrange personal training with Amy Burton at www.exercisewithamy.com. Amy Burton is also a sales executive with 10 News.

Read more natural health stories on Heather's Natural Health. 

Join a discussion with other parents on MomsLikeMe.com about pregnancy and find other Baby Week stories.

Heather Van Nest