For expectant mothers, pool exercises can provide a refreshing and low-impact workout. From prenatal water aerobics to swimming laps, a pregnancy pool workout can be a safe and effective way to stay active during pregnancy.
Heat, humidity, and the summer doldrums are not ideal conditions for exercising, particularly for pregnant women. However, there is a remedy: Get to a pool!
Physically, being in the water simply feels nice during pregnancy. Water significantly lessens the normal strain on your musculoskeletal system and supports the fetus’ weight, so relieving pressure from your lower back. Additionally, water makes it easier for the heart to pump blood, lowers pregnancy-related swelling (edema), and relieves bladder pressure.
Even as it relaxes you, the pool environment for a low-impact, total-body workout. In addition to being a terrific way to cool off during the warmer months, indoor swimming can be enjoyed year-round. The resistance of water to your muscles is 12 times that of air, so you can get the same strength-training benefit as lifting light weights without putting in the time or effort.
Swimming is also recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists during pregnancy. Learn more about the benefits of prenatal swimming. Then, attempt the pregnant water workout listed below.
The Advantages of Prenatal Pool Exercises
Antigone Cook, an instructor of water fitness, aerobics, ballet, and certified Pilates from Oregon who devised the following program, found water workouts to be the most comfortable form of exercise throughout her pregnancy.
“I did not have any back difficulties, and my feet and ankles swelled far less than other women,” she says. Cook believes that her water practice aided in the ease of her labor. Many pregnant women find swimming to be a vigorous form of exercise that they can continue up until and beyond childbirth. Additionally, water is an excellent area to focus on psychological fitness.
Prepare for childbirth physically and psychologically, as you would for a sporting event.
“Especially for the first kid, many mothers tend to be terrified and unsure of what may occur,” she explains. However, if you imagine the best potential conclusion, you can begin to overcome your fear. To achieve this, Cook proposes establishing happy mental images during water exercises.
The Ultimate Pool Workout for Pregnancy
Cook’s training regimen consists of three unique exercises: shallow water, deep water, and swimming. You can mix and match elements of each workout, perform only one, or incorporate some of the exercises into the training regimen that works best for you. It is a routine that is adaptable to all fitness levels and stages of pregnancy.
The shallow-water workout is meant for pregnant women who did not frequently exercise before pregnancy, as well as for physically fit individuals who are fatigued. The deep-water exercises are more complex, but an Aquajogger buoyancy belt makes them easier. Swimming is the most difficult component of the curriculum.
If swimming feels comfortable, do it; if not, stick to the deep- or shallow-water programs. Keep your intensity level modest, between 3 and 5 on a 10-point measure of exertion. While exercising, you should be able to carry on a conversation.
Cook views this activity as an opportunity to give yourself, so to speak, positive strokes as your body transforms. Enjoy the buoyant, cooling environment of the pool as you improve your fitness while having fun. Soon you’ll be sharing your world with someone else, so make the most of this time alone.
The Pool Exercise Routine
You can combine all three components of this water workout (shallow-water exercises, deep-water exercises, and swimming) into your weekly regimen by focusing on one set of exercises or performing portions of each. You can combine all three workouts into a one-hour routine three to four times per week if you are extremely fit. Adapt your regimen as your pregnancy advances to what feels good.
If you have yet to exercise, begin your chosen program gradually. Stay at a modest intensity until you feel stronger, then exercise at varied intensities throughout the week, or add an extra training session to increase the difficulty.
Use a pool with a temperature between 85 and 87 degrees; temperatures below 83 degrees are considered chilly.
Start by walking for at least five minutes in water that is not too deep. As you walk, shrug your shoulders, circle your ankles and hips, roll your head, reach out with your arms, and lift your knees. Tread water at the deep end, or grab the side and give yourself a kick.
Visualize your body as comfortable and powerful and your baby as healthy while you warm up. Even if you have never experienced labor, visualize it in a good light. Consider labor as an athletic competition in which you will achieve your objective with minimal discomfort. As you perform each exercise, focus on your breathing, expanding your abdomen slightly as you inhale and contracting it as you exhale, and performing a Kegel if you so choose.
The shallow water flows.
These movements require chest-deep water. Consider donning water shoes or Aquasocks in order to prevent slipping on the pool’s bottom. If this is your only workout, devote 20–30 minutes three to six times a week. If this is the only way you work out, you should do it for 20–30 minutes three to six times a week. Because water is buoyant, you may be able to keep water walking or running for the rest of your pregnancy. Follow the instructions one at a time as you move through the exercises.
- When you walk or run across the pool when the water is shallow, use a normal stride. For diversity, walk on heels or toes, do grapevine steps, or step sideways. Keep moving for five minutes.
- Place your feet hip-width apart and your arms to the sides until they reach your shoulders. As you jump up, bring the bottoms of your feet together toward your groin. Simultaneously, press your arms downward. Separate your feet to the starting position and return your arms to shoulder height. Repetition of jacks for one minute (about 40–50 reps). Remember to leap up and down without arched backs or backward movement. Enhances gluteal, thigh, hip, shoulder, and back strength.
- Stand with your feet pointing forward and your hip-width apart. Raise the right knee to hip height and cross the left elbow just past the knee’s outside (as pregnancy progresses, you will not touch the knee). Return to the beginning position and continue with the left knee and right elbow, alternating for one minute (about 30 reps). Bring the same-side elbow down to the knee while integrating a tiny side bend when your stomach expands. Enhances abdominal strength.
- Side–to–side lunges: Knees and feet should be turned out at a 45-degree angle, similar to a plié, and placed as high on the pool wall as is comfortable while facing and grabbing the edge of the pool (if there is no edge to grasp, place your feet at the bottom of the wall). Hold the lunge position (one leg bent, the other straight) for 20-30 seconds on each side, then switch. Complete 20 reps (10 to each side). Legs are strengthened, and the inner thighs and groin are stretched.
Before entering the water, attach a comfortable Aquajogger belt snugly around your middle. Then, float in water deep enough that the bottom of the pool cannot be reached by your legs. You can perform these exercises during all three trimesters, but as your pregnancy progresses, you will likely focus more on your upper body and arms because your belly will limit your mobility.
Perform the exercises in the stated order without stopping. If you are simply participating in the deep-water program, you may perform this exercise 3–6 times a week. Two or three times a week if you’re cross-training. As your pregnancy advances, you may find the deep-water program to be the most comfortable.
- Cross-country skiing: Keep your equilibrium with your legs straight down, arms at your sides and palms facing in. Keeping your arms and legs straight, your chest erect and centered, and your shoulders over your hips, “scissor kick” your legs (1 forward, 1 back) as your arms perform the same movement in opposition. As you stride forward, flex your foot up, and as your leg extends back and behind you, point your foot. In the activity, alternate 1 minute of skiing (30–50 repetitions) with 1 minute of jumping jacks. Strengthens the chest, shoulders, buttocks, middle back, as well as the front and back thighs.
- Jumping Jacks: Balance yourself such that your legs are hanging straight down and together and your arms are extended sideways at shoulder height with your palms facing down just below the water line. Legs should be hip-width apart, and the arms should be pressed toward the legs. As the arms return to their initial position, bring your legs together. In exercise, alternate 1 minute of jumping jacks (about 30 to 50 repetitions) with 1 minute skiing. Strengthens the hamstrings, quadriceps, shoulders, chest, and back.
- Run/jog forward and backward: “Jog” forward for 20 counts as if on land, followed by 20 counts backward. Keep your knees high and your arms working against your legs; do not lean. Continue for 8–10 minutes, then “run” with legs further apart. Continue for 8–l0 minutes. Quadriceps, hamstrings, buttocks, and upper arms are strengthened.
- Float with your legs straight and your arms by your sides as you’re lying back in a chair; scull the water with your hands to keep your balance. Now, “scissor cross” your legs by spreading them hip-width apart and alternating the crossing of the top leg. Perform eight scissors kicks with pointed toes, followed by 8 with flexed feet. Enhances abdominal and inner thigh strength.
Swimming is another excellent kind of exercise for pregnant women. If you are performing this activity alone, aim for 20 to 30 minutes of lap swimming. Or, add 5 to 15 minutes of swimming to the shallow- or deep-water exercise regimens. As your fitness improves, increase your time and pace. This activity enhances cardiorespiratory fitness.
If the water is warm, finish your cool-down by extending your thighs, calves, and back in the pool. Hold each stretch for twenty to thirty seconds. If the water is too cold to hold a stretch comfortably, you should speed through the routine or shift the stretching to dry land. As you cool down, take the time to move your body gently and stretch your muscles.