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The Best Exercises For Pregnant Women

The Best Exercises For Pregnant Women
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One of the best things you can do for yourself and your baby during pregnancy is exercise. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends pregnant women exercise at least 30 minutes a day most days of the week.

Exercise improves energy, decreases joint pain, and helps you sleep better. It improves circulation, which can help prevent headaches, constipation, varicose veins, and hemorrhoids (which we all want to avoid during pregnancy!). It also helps strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, increase your flexibility, and improve your overall endurance, which will help you during the labor and delivery process.

By maintaining a regular fitness program during pregnancy, you are less likely to gain excess weight, which will help both the health of you and your baby and make it easier to lose the weight after giving birth.

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While there is no question exercise is beneficial during pregnancy, many people aren’t aware what the best exercises for pregnant women are!

The following activities can be appropriate and beneficial for women in all stages of pregnancy. To make sure you are safe when exercising while pregnant, make sure you do not become overheated and that you stay within a recommended heart-rate level. Both of these could take blood flow away from your developing baby. Keep yourself hydrated and avoid any activities with a chance of falling on your belly.

Please consult with your health care provider before beginning a new exercise routine, and stop if you feel any pain or discomfort.

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Here a five of the best exercises for pregnant women.

1. Walking

Walking is one of the best exercises for overall health and fitness, even when you aren’t pregnant. It becomes even more beneficial when you are pregnant and other activities start to become uncomfortable. It improves circulation, joint mobility, and strength in a very safe and gentle way. If you would like to make your walks a little more challenging, you can try adding some light hills or stairs. Walking can also be very calming and can help decrease any nervousness or anxiety you are feeling about your pregnancy or upcoming birth.

2. Strength training

Strength training with weights is a wonderful way to exercise when you are pregnant! It helps to burn calories and fat, keeping you at a healthy weight, but it also strengthens muscles that you are doing to need once labor and delivery come. You will want those leg muscles strong during those contractions and the pushing phase! Strong arms and upper back muscles will help during long feedings and rockings after your beautiful baby arrives. If you aren’t comfortable with weights at home or the gym, find a trainer or prenatal class that will help you learn a few exercises you can easily do during your pregnancy.

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3. Swimming

Swimming can be especially wonderful towards the end of your pregnancy, when the weight of the baby is causing pain and pressure in your back and pelvic area. The buoyancy of the water helps to relieve some of the pressure on your joints. Swimming itself is a wonderful cardiovascular exercises that also strengthens muscles in your arms, legs, and core.

4. Low-impact cardio

For some people, walking and swimming are either not comfortable or not practical (especially in those cold winter months). There are many cardiovascular options for exercise. Make sure you are choosing low-impact options during your pregnancy. Activities such as indoor cycling classes, hiking, or the elliptical machine can be a fun change of pace while giving the same overall health benefits.

5. Yoga or Pilates

Yoga and Pilates are both wonderful options during pregnancy. They combine the benefits of strength training and stretching, while also giving you a chance to really connect with your body before labor and delivery come. If you’ve never done yoga or Pilates before, you may want to find a specialized introductory or prenatal class to serve your specific needs. Both types of classes should have knowledgeable instructors who can help you modify poses and positions as your pregnancy progresses. Please keep in mind that it is recommended you avoid hot yoga classes during pregnancy.

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Conclusion

To help get you started, here is an exercise routine video I’ve put together that gives some strengthening and stretching that is appropriate for most stages of pregnancy. I oftentimes give these exercises to my physical therapy and Pilates clients during pregnancy to help improve strength and overall fitness.

Don’t be afraid to exercise while you are pregnant! It is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your baby. Listen to your body, stay in communication with your doctor, and have some fun with it!

Featured photo credit: Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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Published on July 22, 2021

20 Healthy and Tasty Family Meals Ideas to Try This Week

20 Healthy and Tasty Family Meals Ideas to Try This Week
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It’s 5 p.m., and you’re exhausted. The kids are hungry, but no one knows what they want to eat for dinner. With very little energy, you force yourself into the kitchen and look through every cabinet, hoping for a spark of inspiration. Eventually, you toss a few ingredients together and hope for the best. It won’t win any prizes and falls short of what you consider “healthy,” but it fills everyone’s stomachs.

Feeding a family can be stressful, even tiresome. It’s hard to find the energy and creativity needed to cook healthy but simple family meals. It’s easy to fall into the “anything goes” mentality. When you’ve got a busy lifestyle, meals become more about survival and less about nutrition.

Here are 20 quick and healthy—but tasty—recipes followed by tips on making these family meals more nutritious. These recipes can help you have a healthy family meal on the table in an hour or less. Remember, swap ingredients out if someone in your family has dietary restrictions or if you avoid certain foods.

1. Mini Meatloaves With Green Beans and Potatoes

    These miniature meatloaves come together quickly and cook faster, too. You can have a family favorite on the table, paired with seasoned potatoes and fresh green beans, in just 40 minutes.

    Get the recipe here.

    2. One-Pan Chicken Parmesan Pasta

      This classic will taste like you spent hours cooking, but the preparation and clean-up couldn’t be quicker. One-pot cooking makes this dish practical, while fresh basil, parmesan, and garlic add a special touch.

      To try this recipe, go here.

      3. Sheet-Pan Chicken Fajitas

        Skip the restaurant and make fajitas at home. The ingredients go on one sheet pan, meaning you won’t spend all night cleaning. Zesty chicken, bell peppers, and warm tortillas can be on the table in 40 minutes. Add sour cream, salsa, guacamole, lettuce, diced tomato, and any other favorite toppings.

        Check out the recipe here.

        4. Philly Cheese Steak Stuffed Peppers

          Lose the carbs but keep the cheesesteak flavors with this quick family meal. Kids will love the pepper “bowls,” and you’ll love giving them a meal full of veggies and protein to keep them healthy.

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          Try it tonight. Get the recipe here.

          5. Chipotle Chicken Quinoa Burrito Bowl

            This veggie-packed meal adds an extra boost by using the superfood quinoa instead of rice. Flavorful yet simple, this meal makes an excellent packable lunch or dinner for your whole family.

            Find the recipe here.

            6. Spinach and Chicken Skillet With Lemon and Parmesan

              The complex flavors of lemon and parmesan come together nicely in this gourmet-like dish, but you don’t have to exert the effort or spend as much as a gourmet meal.

              Get the recipe for this dish here.

              7. Oven-Fried Fish and Chips

                Fish and chips can also sometimes be healthy as evident in this oven-fried version. You won’t miss the calories with this favorite family meal.

                You can find the recipe here.

                8. Pineapple-Teriyaki Chicken

                  Tangy pineapple and sweet teriyaki will have everyone coming back for seconds. Frozen vegetables make this simple family dish even easier to make and enjoy.

                  Find the recipe here.

                  9. Mozzarella, Basil, and Zucchini Frittata

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                    This egg dish is usually served for breakfast, but a frittata can make a fantastic dinner, too. High in protein, packed with zucchini, and delicious, there’s no reason to wait until morning.

                    Try it tonight. Get the recipe here.

                    10. Chicken and Sweet Potato Grill Packets

                      Skip the pans and throw everything into foil with this fun family recipe. Kids will love loading ingredients into their pack, and you’ll love its versatility and simplicity.

                      The recipe for this meal can be found here.

                      11. Chicken and Spanish “Rice”

                        Cauliflower takes the place of rice in this low-carb family meal, but it’s so flavorful and filling, no one will miss it.

                        Find the recipe here.

                        12. Honey Chicken Stir Fry

                          This honey chicken stir fry is the healthier version of a restaurant favorite that can be served up quicker than you can order it.

                          Find the recipe here.

                          13. Chicken Skewers With Tzatziki

                            Greek chicken and tzatziki sauce will have you yearning for the Mediterranean, but you can make this recipe at home for your family to enjoy.

                            This easy recipe can be found here.

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                            14. Healthy Walking Tacos

                              Traditional walking tacos are a party favorite, but they’re not usually healthy. However, this recipe keeps it fun while making it more nutritious.

                              Find out how to make it here.

                              15. Slow-Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup

                                This classic comfort meal can be ready when you walk in the door. All you have to do is add noodles, and it’s ready to serve.

                                The recipe can be found here.

                                16. Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole

                                  This usually takes a little over an hour, but the preparation time is only 30 minutes. You’ll love how easy it is, and the cheesy rice is sure to please.

                                  Find the recipe here.

                                  17. Crockpot Rotisserie-Style Chicken

                                    Skip the checkout line and have a rotisserie-style chicken ready at home. A staple in many quick meals, you might find this family meal recipe among your most-used.

                                    Get the recipe for this flavorful chicken here.

                                    18. Santa Monica Street Tacos

                                      Named after a simple taco found on the streets of California, you’ll be surprised that something with only a few ingredients can be so flavorful. Your kids will surely enjoy them.

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                                      Find the recipe here.

                                      19. Pizza Pasta Salad

                                        Enjoy the flavor of pizza without the hassle of making a crust. Use a fun pasta shape to make this even more appealing to your family, especially kids.

                                        Try it tonight. Get the recipe here.

                                        20. Slow-Cooker Lasagna Soup

                                          Everyone loves lasagna, but it can be time-consuming and messy to make. However, this soup version has the taste you want but with the ease of a crockpot.

                                          Get the recipe here.

                                          Bonus: 3 Simple Ways to Make Meals Healthier

                                          Eating healthy doesn’t have to take a lot of money, time, or thought. Any improvements are a big step in the right direction.

                                          Here are three easy ways you can make meals healthier for your family.

                                          1. Lose the Sugar

                                          Are you looking to improve your health? Cut processed sugars from your diet—the more, the better, and that includes artificial sweeteners.[1] Why? Studies show that sugar increases the risks for weight gain, heart disease, acne, type-2 diabetes, depression, cancer, fatty liver disease, cellular aging, and low energy levels.[2]

                                          2. Avoid Highly Processed Foods

                                          Many processed foods are fine to eat. Even fresh fruit and vegetables go through some processing to stay fresh longer. However, highly processed foods have added salt, sweeteners, saturated fats, preservatives, and artificial colors. These types of food have been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.[3]

                                          3. Replace Simple Carbs for Complex Carbs

                                          Lowering daily carbs can do wonders for your health. Studies show that low-carb diets lead to lower insulin levels, lower bad cholesterol levels, visceral fat loss, weight loss, reduced appetite, and can be therapeutic for many brain disorders.[4]

                                          When eating carbs, choose complex carbs over simple carbs. Simple carbs, such as white flour, rice, and degermed cornmeal, lack nutrients and spike blood sugar levels. Complex carbs, such as sweet potato, brown rice, and oats, are usually more nutritious and aren’t digested as quickly, giving more sustained energy and less of an insulin spike.[5]

                                          Enjoy Family Meals With Less Stress!

                                          Dinner can be enjoyable again now that you’re armed with simple and nutritious recipes for your family. These healthy and tasty family meal recipes can help you feel even better about what you serve. Best of all, you’ll have the extra time and energy you saved from cooking and spend more time with your family.

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                                          More Healthy Eating Tips

                                          Featured photo credit: Jimmy Dean via unsplash.com

                                          Reference

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