Since you've become pregnant, your have read everything you can get your hands on about making this the best pregnancy ever. It's a good bet that you've learned how beneficial it is to exercise, but would rather save your money than spend it on a gym membership.
The good news is that you can get a great workout in the comfort of your own home-by spending little to no money. First get your doctor's OK to exercise at least 30 minutes, on most or all days of the week, throughout your pregnancy. This half-hour session can include cardiovascular work, stretching, and strengthening.
Without access to a treadmill, bike, elliptical trainer, or other cardio equipment, the best way to get your exercise is to go for a walk. Be sure to put on a pair of supportive shoes before you hit the road. Walk for 10-15 minutes and gradually increase your time as much as you feel comfortable. Swimming is another easy and fun way to get aerobic exercise.
For the stretching and strengthening, pick and choose exercises from the following lists. Try to do what you feel comfortable with, and vary your routine on a weekly basis to avoid boredom-when you enjoy working out, you're more likely to stick with it. You can do the stretching and strengthening on the same day or on opposite days, but both are important.
Hold each stretch gently for 15-20 seconds, and repeat 2-3 times. Don't bounce or overstretch!
Seated Hamstring Stretch: Sit on the floor with right leg extended, and left knee bent, tucking your left foot in toward your groin. Lean forward, keeping back straight, until a stretch is felt in the back of the thigh. Switch sides.
Standing Hamstring Stretch: Place one foot on a step or chair, toe pointing up. Keeping back straight, lean forward until a stretch is felt in the back of the thigh. Switch sides.
Groin/Hamstring Stretch: Sit with legs open like a V, shoulders back, abs in. Bending from the waist and keeping the spine straight, slide hands forward on the ground until stretch is felt. Try to relax with each outward breath. In later pregnancy, you can sit on a book to keep your stomach from hitting the floor. You can also stretch with a partner by sitting across from one another and grasping hands; one person leans back as the other leans forward.
Stretch for Adductors: With feet wide, toes pointing out, squat down without letting heels come off the ground. (Hold onto a table for balance if necessary.) Place elbows inside knees and hands on the ground. Gently push knees outward until a stretch is felt. Try to do 5 kegel/pelvic floor contractions while in this position.
Plantar Fascia Stretch: Standing on the edge of a step or stair, lower one or both heels down until a stretch is felt in the calf and/or foot.
Calf Stretch: Stand facing a wall, arms extended, palms touching the wall. Step back with the right leg and bend the left knee, leaning into the wall. Keep arms on the wall with elbows straight,and back in a straight line.
Inner Thigh Stretch: Sit on the floor with your back against the wall. Bend knees so that soles of feet are touching. Push knees towards floor until a stretch is felt in the inner thigh.
Quadriceps Stretch: Stand up straight, holding on to a table or wall with your left hand. With your right hand, grasp your right ankle or foot behind you. Keep back flat and abs pulled in.
Hip Flexor Stretch: Kneeling on the floor, place your right leg on the floor in front of you (similar to a lunge position). From here, pull in your abs, and lean your torso forward until you feel a stretch in the front of your left thigh. Switch sides.
Chest Stretch: Stand in a corner or doorway, place hands at shoulder height on wall/door frame, and lean forward until a stretch is felt across the chest.
Do 1-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions. If an exercise requires you to lie on your back, only do so in the 1st trimester. During the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, you can perform supine exercises while lying on either an incline or a stability ball.
Pelvic Tilt: You can perform this exercise lying down, seated, standing, or on hands and knees. While exhaling, use your abs (not your butt) to tilt your pelvis backward, by pulling your stomach towards your spine, decreasing the curve in your low back. Inhale back to neutral.
Kegels: Pelvic floor contractions!!
Side-Lying Leg Lift: Lie on your side on the floor, legs stacked, abs pulled in toward your spine. Lift top leg toward ceiling with toe pointed slightly upward to work the outer thigh and quad. You can also lift the bottom leg to work the inner thigh. Add ankle weights to increase intensity.
Trunk Stability: On hands and knees, tighten stomach and keep back flat. Lift right arm and left leg off the floor, until parallel to floor. Switch sides to complete one rep.
Chair Squat: Hold onto a chair for balance, keeping feet flat on floor, shoulder-width apart. Squat as low as you can comfortably, keeping knees behind toes. Add hand weights to increase resistance, or let go of chair and raise hands above your head for a bigger challenge.
Lunges: Lunge forward, to the side, or backward, keeping foot in line with knee. Do not let knee travel past your toes in front. Return to standing and repeat on other leg. You can add a forward or overhead punch holding 3-5 pound dumbbells to increase the challenge.
Wall Squat: Stand with back against wall (or with back on ball against wall), feet out in front of you, shoulder-width apart. Slide down wall so that knees are at a 90-degree angle (less if you have knee pain). Hold for 5-10 seconds the return to standing. Do not let your knees come forward in front of your toes.
Step-Ups: Place foot on a stair or foot stool 4-8 inches tall. Shift weight and use the strength of the leg on the step (without pushing off the back leg) to raise yourself up. You can increase difficulty by placing 3-5 pounds weights in hands, or try a lateral raise or punch with arms while stepping up.
Front Arm Support (Plank): On hands and knees, extend one leg behind you, then the other leg so you are in a push up position, keep back flat and abdominals pulled in. Hold 5 seconds and return one leg at a time.
Wall Push Up: Stand in front of a wall. Extend arms slightly wider than shoulder width to touch the wall. Lean into wall bending elbows, performing a push-up. Try to keep heels flat on ground so you also get a stretch in your calf. You can progress to kneeling push ups on the floor, then full push up (on toes) if able.
Seated Row with Band: Sit on the floor, legs extended in front of you. Wrap the center of a resistance band around your feet and grasp handles in each hand, arms extended in front of you. With abs in and back straight, squeeze shoulder blades together as you pull your arms back, bending at elbows. Return to starting position.
Forward and Lateral Raises: Stand holding weights 3-5 pound weights. Keep abs pulled in tight and palms facing down. Raise arms out to the sides (laterally) or to the front, up to shoulder height. You can progress to standing on one foot to challenge your core.
These are a few great ways to get in shape at home. Only perform the exercises that you feel comfortable with, and mix them up often. Pick 3-4 exercises from each group (stretching and strengthening) for each workout.
Dumbbells and exercise tubing are relatively inexpensive-but make a great investment. You can use anything for resistance-a can of soup, a water bottle-so no more excuses! Exercise is too important for the health of you and your baby!