The One Exercise For Every Pregnant Woman
Why Walking is the Ultimate Pregnancy Exercise
If I was to pick one exercise that I think every pregnant woman should do it would be... drum roll please…
Walking!!! “Walking,” you say in disbelief? You were expecting something more elaborate, right? Truth is, an exercise doesn’t have to be fancy to get results and be effective. Walking is something we do every day, but it isn’t always thought of as a form of exercise.
Let’s reframe the way you think about walking and look at why it is especially great in pregnancy!
Walking is a low impact way to get great cardio during your pregnancy. It is also a great stress reliever and we could all use a little less stress in our lives!
Walking requires no equipment other than shoes, and it allows you some time to get out in nature and just breathe. It is also great for your glutes and legs, and your pelvic floor!
I recommend walking every day for 30 minutes (which means you will realistically do it 3-4x a week, which is right in line with the PARMED-X for Pregnancy guidelines). To up your intensity and work your glutes and core even more, include some hills in your route.
Heart Rate and Exertion
You can pay attention to heart rate, but because heart rate can vary so much in pregnancy, I usually guide women to use a rating of perceived exertion and the “Talk Test.” You should be able to carry on a conversation without becoming out of breath. Heart rate guidelines are as follows:
- Less than 20 years old – 140 to 155 beats per minute (bpm);
- 20 to 29 years old – 135 to 150 bpm; and
- 30 to 39 years old – 130 to 145 bpm.
Ratings of perceived exertion guidelines are based on how hard you feel you are working according to a scale. You can check the accuracy of your heart rate by comparing it to the scale below. Working in a range of about 12-14 (somewhat hard) is appropriate for most pregnant women.
Rating of Perceived Exertion Scale
- 7 Very, very light
- 9 Somewhat light
- 11 Fairly light
- 13 Somewhat hard
- 15 Hard
- 17 Very hard
- 19 Very, very hard
Always pay close attention to how you feel and stop exercising if you feel:
- Chest pain
- Calf pain or swelling
- Abdominal pain
- Blurred vision
- Fluid leaking from the vagina
- Vaginal bleeding
- Less fetal movement
Be Gentle on Your Body
The body is going through a lot of changes and adaptations. The muscles and connective tissue in the abdomen are becoming stretched, the pelvic floor is carrying an ever-increasing load, and the joints are becoming less stable.
Choosing low or no impact activities like walking while you are pregnant will be safer for your pelvic floor, abdomen and joints while offering a meditative method to workout functionally.