When you think of safe pregnancy workouts what comes to mind? It’s likely a combination of prenatal yoga, swimming, and some cardio on the elliptical. What probably doesn’t come to mind is higher intensity sports such as boxing, running, weightlifting, spinning, and more. Our founder and CEO, Melinda Nicci, was interviewed for an article in The Sun last week as a prenatal fitness expert talking about the safety of exercising while pregnant, in the wake of Vogue Williams showing off her boxing prowess and Pippa Middleton sharing how she stays sharp with tennis. Melinda says, “[Prenatal exercise] keeps muscles strong and supple for labour, keeps a woman’s cardiovascular system healthy, burns calories and helps prevent the aches and pains associated with carrying a bump”.
At Baby2Body, we’re huge proponents of helping women continue to do the things they love while pregnant by keeping them informed on how to stay safe and confident while working out. Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions surrounding exercise during pregnancy and we’re actively working to bust those myths and change the way people think about prenatal exercise by making it all about what you can do. The truth is, you can do a lot of the same sports and activities that you did before becoming pregnant – provided you make the right adjustments at the right stage. But it can be tough to know where to get started.
In most cases, the best place to begin is where you “left off” before becoming pregnant. Understanding (and respecting!) your pre-pregnancy fitness level will help you know how hard you can push yourself at the start and how to make changes in your second and third as your body starts to change. Take a look at Serena Williams. She was able to compete at tennis’ highest level while in her first trimester. Why? Because her body was used to that degree of intensity. Most of us wouldn’t be able to do that (pregnant or not) because most of us are not professional tennis players. But if you have a low-risk, “normal” pregnancy, you will be able to maintain your pre-pregnancy level of exercise intensity in the first trimester, meaning you can keep up with the high-energy sports you love!
Sports are a great way to stay active, keep your heart healthy, and have fun with friends while you’re at it. So, we’re covering 5 surprising sports you can still do while pregnant, along with some quick recommendations for staying safe at every stage of pregnancy. Keep in mind that the below suggestions assume that you’ve been doing the sport in question prior to pregnancy and are fully familiar with proper techniques associated with it. Starting up a new, intensive exercise isn’t recommended during pregnancy – and the same goes for the following sports.
5 Surprising Sports You Can Still Do While Pregnant
1. Boxing: OK so we’re not talking Rocky Balboa type boxing here, but you can continue with bag or spar-boxing classes designed to give you a cardio and muscle-toning workout! You won’t want to do any active partner combat, but working on techniques with a sparring partner can be safe during pregnancy!
- Prenatal precautions: You’ll want to make sure you’re not engaging in any high-balance moves as your bump grows and center of gravity changes. Also – it’s best to avoid vigorous twisting of the abdomen once your bump pops, so keep that in mind.
2. Tennis: If Pippa can do it you can too! If you’re a regular on the tennis courts, you definitely don’t need to stop once pregnant, as it’s a great way to get some cardio. To learn more about the many benefits of tennis, check out this post!
- Prenatal precautions: Tennis involves a lot of quick movements back and forth, which can put pressure on your joints. During pregnancy your synovial fluid (the fluid that keeps your joints supple and lubricated) is actually thinner, so you do have to be a bit more careful of any strain placed on them. Be sure to warm up fully and slow down the pace as necessary.
3. Running: Running in pregnancy is definitely possible, but it really does depend on the person. If you were an avid runner before becoming pregnant, you’ll likely be able to keep up with your pace and distance during the early months. But as your bump grows you may find it uncomfortable to keep running (not to mention the pressure on your bladder!) – and you may want to switch to walking or using the elliptical which will be a bit gentler on your body. You’ll have to drop distance and/or speed as you move into later months – but if you’re still comfortable, you can keep going! For some inspiration, check out these Baby2Body moms journeys with running here, here and here!
- Prenatal precautions: Make sure to warm up fully before starting your run, and take time to stretch and cool down after. If you feel pain or dizziness while running, be sure to slow to walk and focus on regaining your breath. The talk test is a great tool to use during cardio workouts. You want to be able to hold an easy conversation while working out to ensure you don’t get too short on breath.
4. Golf: Yes you can get a workout while golfing! Upper body toning will come into play, and if you skip the cart every now and then in favor walking, you can up the physical exercise even more! It’s also a fantastic sport for building mental stamina (good for labor and motherhood!).
- Prenatal precautions: Like we mentioned above, you’ll want to avoid rigorous twisting of your abdomen in later stages of pregnancy, so you may want to slow down your swing speed and focus more on technique. As your skin is also more sensitive in pregnancy, make sure that you use proper sun protection while outside!
5. Cycling: Spinning classes are finding more and more pregnant ladies in the saddle – and we’ve got our top spinning rules for pregnancy that you can check out in the Baby2Body app! On a stationary bike you have to worry less about falling over, but the temperature increase in the room can prove challenging. If you’re a fan of bicycling or road biking you can keep at it as well, making sure you take balance into consideration and wear all proper gear. Look to cycle in safe, no-traffic areas if possible.
- Prenatal precautions: Whether you’re in a spin class or outside on a bike, you’ll want to make sure you prioritize balance. Also – be aware of overheating, and be sure to have plenty of water before, during, and after any cycling sessions. You’ll want to make sure you have a strong pelvic floor and no abdominal separation before proceding.
If you’ve been bumming that you’ll have to skip out on your favorite sporty activity for the next 9 months, think again girl! Check out some of these inspiring mamas who are still surfing, weightlifting, and inverting their way through pregnancy!
Of course with any sport or exercise, you may find that you have to slow down or put them on hold as your pregnancy progresses – and that’s OK. We’re all different and our bodies change in various ways. Listen to how your body feels during any physical activity and let that guide you as to how far you can go, and be sure to stop if you have any pain. If you have any concerns about continuing with certain sports while pregnant, talk with your doc or midwife about your current health conditions to ensure your workouts will be safe for you and your little one. Feel free to message us in the comments with sports you’re interested in playing while pregnant and we’ll be happy to share more top tips for safety!
Using all our prenatal and postnatal fitness and health expertise, you can trust us to guide you through all the questions you may have throughout your pregnancy. To get started, download our app!