Easy Exercise Routine for the First Trimester
Your first trimester is a weird one. You know you’re pregnant, but likely aren’t telling many people, and without looking pregnant or feeling kicks, it can be hard to believe it’s real. Until you realize you’re taking two naps a day, and are nauseated at the mention of eggs.
Exercising in your first trimester can be scary – what’s safe, what’s unsafe? – and many women are just aiming to just get through the day, let alone do a workout.
Exercising throughout your pregnancy has so many benefits, it’s important to keep it up if you’re already consistent, or get into a routine if you’re not.
Here’s exactly what you need to know about exercising in the first trimester to be safe, along with a routine you’ll actually want to do!
First Trimester Exercise Do’s:
- Get clearance from your healthcare provider. Largely, exercising in your first trimester is recommended, however you want to bring this up with your doctor/midwife.
- Keep hydrated by drinking water before, during, and after your workout.
- Wear comfortable clothing and a sports bra that offers extra support. (Consider a belly band later in pregnancy to help with any discomfort.)
- Stay in the talk-test zone when working out. An elevated heart rate is the goal, but breathlessness is not. You should be able to say a sentence.
First Trimester Exercise Don’ts
- Avoid contact sports or those that increase the chance of injury like gymnastics, skiing, hockey, volleyball horseback riding, etc. To sum up, anything with significant jolting, jumping, or physical contact.
- High intensity exercises need to be discussed with your doctor and are usually saved for the second trimester unless you are already conditioned.
- Don’t overheat. Overheating is dangerous for the fetus, so it is recommended to workout indoors where it’s temperature controlled.
- No hot yoga during any stage of pregnancy
- Stop if you experience any of the following:
- Vaginal bleeding
Shortness of breath
Best exercises for your first trimester
Luckily, most exercises are safe during the first trimester as long as you stay in a comfortable exertion range. Again, an elevated heart rate and heavier breathing is perfectly fine, but breathlessness or exhaustion is not.
Here are exercises that are great for first trimester moms-to-be!
Yoga is the perfect workout while you’re expecting! It’s low impact and with little modification you can pick it up now that you’re pregnant, or you can continue your practice.
There are a few poses that should be avoided (and hot yoga should be avoided all together): closed twists, inversions, deep backbends or folds, stretching past the point of comfort.
Yoga works not only your body, but is great for building your mind/body connection. You’ll begin to notice your posture, and breathing patterns while you’re not actively practicing.
Here are 4 prenatal yoga videos I enjoyed throughout my pregnancy. I recommend saving them in a YouTube playlist so you don’t have to reference this post or search for your videos every time you want to practice yoga:
For more, search Prenatal Yoga/prenatal pilates on YouTube. If you like going to a studio, search prenatal yoga classes in your area. Although you don’t have to stick to prenatal classes, they are a great way to get familiar with the poses and pace appropriate for pregnancy.
Bodyweight strength training
Strength training in pregnancy will help you maintain muscle mass, possibly making it labor feel easier, and definitely helping you regain your strength postpartum.
It’s perfectly safe to use free weights or weight machines while pregnant, however I’m pointing out the glory of bodyweight strength training because you can do it at home without equipment (although I do recommend getting a resistance band).
Here is a template you can use to easily create your own 30 minute strength training routine that you can do with zero equipment at home!
YouTube, again, is a great resource for prenatal workouts. I used BodyFit by Amy throughout my pregnancy and even postpartum!
If you go to a group exercise class, be sure to inform the instructor that you’re pregnant and how far along you are so they can give appropriate modifications.
I have to address the nothing-over-140-bpm myth. For decades, doctors advised pregnant women to keep their heart rate below 140bpm (beats per minute) when exercising.
Today, these limits are not referenced, especially since it’s been recognized that heart rate isn’t the best measure of exertion when pregnant. You may notice your resting heart rate is 10-15bpm higher than pre-pregnancy, due to your body pumping 30-50% more blood!
Instead of going by heart rate, it’s now recommended to use the RPE scale to determine your effort level, and keeping it between a 4-6 for cardio.
Cardio is anything that gets your heart rate elevated. Some great first trimester cardio options you can do anywhere are power walking, jogging (if you’re already a regular runner), and at home cardio.
Here is an at home cardio routine great for your first trimester:
How to videos:
Putting it all together
That’s a LOT of information, and if you’re in your first trimester, I can hear you saying, “That’s great, but I’m sooo tired! And, also may throw up…”
One of the benefits of exercise is that is actually gives you energy. Even better, working out can even relieve some feelings of morning sickness by not only distracting you but releasing counteractive hormones to help balance the hormone fluctuation that causes feelings of nausea (source).
Now that you’re on board, how much should you be doing? It’s recommended to do 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week. In other words, about 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.
Here are two weekly prenatal workout routines you can do without a gym and without equipment:
I work with women from preconception through early motherhood, when exercise has a way of falling by the wayside. If you could use outside accountability, email me at Samantha@simplywellcoaching.com and during your free 20 minute Discovery Call we can decide if you’re a fit for health coaching!