During those first early weeks and months of pregnancy, it can be hard to summon up the energy to get out of bed, let alone exercise. You are likely to be fairly tired, may be experiencing some morning sickness and be feeling more than a little anxious about your first pregnancy scan. It can also be hard to know what kind of exercise is safe to do in the first trimester.
That said, maintaining an active lifestyle and exercising during pregnancy can have a hugely positive impact on both your physical and mental wellbeing. Some of the benefits of exercise during pregnancy include improved sleep, less overall weight gain and a reduction in the risk of gestational diabetes.
How much exercise you can do safely during pregnancy (and indeed how much you want to do) will depend on how physically active you were before you were pregnant, but many women exercise throughout their entire pregnancy; taking into account recommended activity levels and specific restrictions on what they should do.
Here are some gentle exercises you may want to consider in the first trimester.
It may sound like a fairly obvious choice, but getting out for a walk in the great outdoors can do you the world of good during the first trimester. Walking around the block, aiming to walk at a pace that increases your heart rate but where you can still hold a detailed conversation is ideal, and going for a walk with your partner after your evening meal is a great way to relax before bed and a calm opportunity to catch up away from tech, tv and other distractions! Getting out in the fresh air is also a practical way of reducing any pregnancy related nausea you might be experiencing.
Jogging / Running
If used to being physically active, there is no reason why you can’t continue to go for a gentle jog or run, being conscious not to over exert yourself and ensuring you warm up / cool down correctly.
It’s important to make sure you are wearing suitable shoes such as a decent pair of running sneakers to protect your calves and ankles. Low impact exercise is favourable as during pregnancy your tendons become softer and more at risk of strain.
Yoga is a great low impact gentle exercise for the first trimester. The breathing and relaxation / mindfulness techniques can be extremely valuable preparation for active labour and if you can find a pregnancy specific yoga class, this is something that can be done all the way through to 37 weeks. If you are attending a normal yoga class or practicing yoga at home, please do your research first, as some moves will be discouraged or can be tailored slightly for pregnant women.
Finally, swimming is another pregnancy friendly exercise option as despite your bump growing at a rapid pace, the water helps lose the sensation of weight. A gentle breast stroke swim to start of your day can also give you some much needed time to yourself to switch off, relax and destress.
The exercises to avoid during pregnancy would be heavy weight lifting or anything that may put too much strain on the joints/ bones / muscles. You should also avoid anything that is likely to significantly raise your body temperature, such as bikram yoga / hot yoga, or that after swim session in the sauna or hot tub.
It’s also important to ensure you don’t get dehydrated, so whatever method of exercise you choose, ensure you drink lots of water, and snack regularly to ensure an adequate net calorie intake.