Walking is one of the best exercises a mama-to-be can do throughout her pregnancy. Although prenatal yoga, Pilates, and belly dancing are also excellent exercises, they become more difficult in the third trimester. Certain poses and positions must be modified to ensure the comfort and safety of mother and child. Walking however exists as the ultimate pregnancy exercise. As with any exercise routine, you should always get the green light from your midwife or doctor before beginning. Let’s take a look at the top 5 reasons walking is a wonderful prenatal exercise.
1. It’s low impact
Walking is so gentle on your body that you can continue through the third trimester. In fact, old wives’ tales, OBs, and midwives all recommend walking as a natural means to start labor. One of the common complaints with pregnancy involves sore joints. Since walking is low impact, it won’t stress joints already working overtime to accommodate the extra weight on your body.
2. It’s easy
Walking doesn’t require any equipment beyond comfortable athletic shoes. You don’t need any machines to help you complete it as an exercise. You can walk in place at home, around the neighborhood, or do laps at a mall during inclement weather. And if you already have a gym membership, you can simply use it for some quality time on the treadmill.
3. It’s an entire body workout
Walking encourages your blood to flow throughout your body, which means your cells are receiving oxygen and nutrients. Moderately swinging your arms provides a gentle workout for your arms, just as clenching and releasing the buttocks provides an additional exercise for your posterior. Be conscious of your breathing while walking: try to breathe deeply, expanding the lungs.
4. It’s easily adaptable
Health experts recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. Although this may seem like drudgery on days where all your energy is flowing toward creating a new little person, on days when you experience a burst of energy you could walk for double the time. You can also easily alter the difficulty of your walking workout by including hills and/or small weights. In addition, you can create a prenatal workout schedule that works for you. Maybe on Mondays you only walk for 20 minutes, but on Tuesdays you walk 40, and on Wednesdays you walk 30. Create a schedule that will be easiest for you to stick to.
5. It’s fun with a partner
If you dread exercise, try it with a partner. Walking while talking will make those 30, 40, or 60-minutes fly by. If you can’t find a person to walk with you, try calling a friend to catch up while you walk; use your walking time to catch up with friends and family members you’ve been meaning to call but just haven’t had to time to fit in. Talking while walking is a great measure of your workout; you should also have enough breath to hold a conversation. If talking becomes to difficult, you should consider scaling back your workout.
While walking, it’s important to be cognizant of your balance, particularly during the third trimester. As your belly expands, your center of gravity will shift. Always try to walk on an even surface—try to avoid uneven sidewalks or nature paths that may have rocks or fallen branches. Most importantly, listen to your body. If you begin to tire, feel extremely thirsty or experience lightheadedness or cramps, it’s time to stop and rest. The closer you are to your due date, the less you may be able to do, and that’s okay! And remember: when you’re ready to meet your little one, consider going on a long walk—it just may naturally induce your labor!