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A More Practical Prenatal Workout

prenatal exerciseWe all know it’s important to exercise throughout your pregnancy. Of course, experts say not to go out there and try a new hardcore workout while pregnant, but it’s healthy and encouraged to keep doing activities that your body is used to and that feel good to you (relatively speaking…lots of normal movements start feeling pretty awkward as that bump grows!). Personally, I enjoyed lots of walking, pre-natal yoga and pilates (at-home DVDs for my first pregnancy; in-studio for my second because toddlers don’t let you work out at home!), and barre classes. But this post isn’t about what I did…it’s about what, in hindsight, I realized I should have been doing!

If you’ve paid attention in class or while reading about fitness, you’ve probably heard the term “functional movement” – exercises that mimic everyday activities, so that your body is strong and remains injury-free in daily life. Here, I’m going to suggest a workout program that mimics the REAL functional movements that mamas need to master during pregnancy and after baby is born.

(Please note: I am not an exercise or medical professional; this “program,” while potentially practical, is really just for kicks. Please consult with your doctor regarding any fitness programs while pregnant.)

  • Weighted Squats: Start with about 8 lb weights, and work up to 40+ pounders, and alternate holding the weight on different sides (but favor the left).

Get really used to this movement. Squatting gets pretty difficult with a big baby bump, and then you will be holding a baby, then toddler, then small child for much of the next several years. That little one will inevitably drop things constantly (or you will) that you will need to safely pick up without putting that small, then not-so-small “weight” down. Double your reps and add speed if your baby uses a pacifier.

  • The Seated Wiggle: Sit in a chair and shift your ribcage back and forth side to side, then around in circles.

This movement works those obliques…which you probably never thought would come in handy when using the restroom! As that bump grows this motion is very important as you now have to pee, then wiggle those obliques, and then go some more because your growing uterus is blocking the direct pull of gravity.

  • Toe Crunches: Bend and extend your toes repeatedly, adding resistance to strengthen your grip.

Because sometimes you just won’t want to squat (per above) to pick up something small if your toes can do the trick!

  • Around-the-shoulder Stretch & Wipe: Reach your right hand across your body, around your left shoulder, and wipe your entire shoulder blade with a napkin. Switch sides and repeat, again favoring the left. (Google it, there’s interesting research about why we tend to carry babies on our left side!).

Those little hands will inevitably get messy, and when you pick your LO up, squat to help with shoes, or do pretty much anything with your small child, they hold on to the back of your shoulder. So whatever was on their hands is now on your clothing (in my house it’s usually yogurt). I’ve gone out a number of times with an unknowingly food-covered shoulder blade (you can’t see back there!) so if I had worked this exercise into my normal routine, it could have spared me some raised eyebrows.

  • Speed Eating: This one isn’t the healthiest, so be sure you at least start with healthy foods. But if you want to eat anything while it’s warm for the next several years, you’re gonna have to pick up the pace.

Channel your inner Joey Chestnut!

  • The One-Handed Anything: Literally practice doing anything and everything with one hand. Your morning beauty routine, folding laundry, making dinner…

Life must go on, even when those littles don’t want to be put down!

Good luck as you prepare your body for these next life phases. And please comment below if you’ve got any “functional movements” to add to this routine!

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